I didn’t ask for this.

But then again, I guess no one really does.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

I somehow managed to get some sleep last night. It was the first night that I had since it happened.

But it was plagued with dreams. Dreams of you.

I try to brush them off as I pull on my new dress.

It’s elegant, with intricate lace details. It’s nothing like what I usually wear. And I hate that I have to wear it. But it’ll do.

I go to the bathroom and notice my reflection. Green eyes—your eyes—stare back at me. 

They’re distant, tired. I’m not sure if I can remember who was once behind them anymore.

I think she’s gone now.

I pull out my cosmetics bag from underneath the sink and run my fingers over the make-up brushes.

They look as sad and as dull as I do.

I put on the mask that I hope will fool people into thinking I’m doing better than expected. It’s a lie, of course, but they don’t need to know that.

I put on a little bit extra, just in case.

I curl my hair like I like to do. But I find it extremely difficult to accomplish. It’s a strange feeling.

It takes me 30 minutes when it usually takes me 10.

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I go back into my bedroom and sit on the bed. I pull my new heels towards me. Like the dress, they’re nothing like what I usually wear. They feel foreign as I strap them onto my feet. They make me a few inches taller.

But I can’t shake how small I feel inside.

Mom calls to me from downstairs. It’s time.

I wait to hear the sound of your footsteps joining mine in the hall. They don’t.

It’s silent.

I walk down the stairs and sigh heavily as I cross the threshold of the front door, heading to the car.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

I stare out the window for the entire ride over. I wish I was going anywhere else but toward the truth I don’t want to face.

I pinch my thighs underneath my dress, hoping to wake up from this nightmare.

I don’t. It’s real.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

We arrive. I get out of the car slowly. Anything to prolong the time.

We go inside and are met by those assigned to help us.

I’m not ready. I never will be.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

I stop abruptly as they’re about to lead us into the main room. Every part of me screams to turn around and run, run, run away.

It couldn’t be happening. This isn’t how it was supposed to be. There was so much left to do.

Please. I don’t want to.

I can’t.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

One of the men smiles softly at me, waiting patiently. I reckon he’s witnessed someone like me a thousand times.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

I let out a shuddering breath. I hadn’t realized I had been holding it.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

I take a tiny step forward. I beg with the universe and anyone else who would listen.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

After what seemed like days, I round the corner.

I miss you. I love you. I’m—

And there you are.

You look different. Different than I’ve ever seen you.

They put a mask on you, too, trying to hide the trauma beneath. But I can still see it.

There are dark circles under your eyes that weren’t there before. There’s a grayness to your skin that looks so lonely. There are lines of distress scattered across your face that make you look much older. Your mouth is a thin line, resembling nothing of the smile that it usually wore. Your bangs are parted just right, but they’ve lost their sunny shine. You smell of rose oil, which I silently vow to despise from that moment on.

You’re wearing one of your favorite suits. We all decided on it together.

A blue shirt, your favorite color. A black jacket, pants, and tie. They cover up what I imagine is even more trauma.

Burn marks from the shock pads. Bruising from the force of CPR. Strange coloring from the massive amount of drugs they pumped into you to try and save your life.

I suppose I’m grateful to at least be spared of seeing that.

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Your hands are folded across your torso. They look so feeble and small. They mock how strong and able they used to be.

I hesitate before reaching out to touch them.

The child in me still expects to find the familiar warmth of them. She pleads for it.

But I already know they won’t be . . . and can’t be.

As I touch them, the cold suddenly rushes through me. It’s a deep, empty, merciless cold that laughs with such finality.

I jerk my hand back, and I feel waves of intensity rising quickly in my chest. They roar in my ears, so loud that the rest of the world falls away.

And before I can stop it, a scream erupts from my lips. It’s a primal scream, one that I didn’t even know I was capable of making.

Then the tears come. They trickle at first, before becoming a steady stream. I don’t even try to hide them or wipe them away.

I’m blinded, barely able to see through the blur of my pain. But inside, I can feel it. That truth that I would do anything not to face.

You’re gone. Far, far away from me, beyond any distance that I could ever even attempt to reach.

You’re dead.

Your heart betrayed you. Even with the nearly perfect lifestyle you lived, it betrayed you.

It feels as if mine is betraying me, too, now. And a small part of me wishes that it would.

I feel my mom and my sister at my side. But I’m not there. Not really.

We hold each other for a while until I hear one of the men in the distance say that the crowd was arriving.

I step closer to you again and lean down to kiss your forehead. I whisper words to you I know you won’t hear. But I whisper them to you anyway.

And then before I can stop it, they close the lid.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

Just like that, it was over.

I stand there, trembling, staring at the coffin which confines you, sealing you away from me forever.

And I wonder if I’ll ever recover.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

Katherine Ward

Katherine Ward is a copywriter and blogger with a specialization in grief and loss. Her ultimate goal is to help all those who are struggling with grief to learn that they are loved, that they are important, and that they are not alone.