by Hailee Meyers
- Loved ones over ambition.
- Be a better big sister.
- Take care of yourself.
- Talk to God.
Our house is divided into three piles: the things we will give away (a substantial pile), the things we will keep (a less substantial pile), and the things we know we shouldn’t keep but can’t bear to part with yet (a decent pile). We are stripping our house layer by layer, occasionally stopping to wonder out loud if it feels like we’re trying to erase her and purify this space. Our mother is in every facet of the house; she picked the colors, sewed the curtains herself (one handed, no less), and embroidered half of the wall decorations. Her cookbooks still overwhelm the bookshelf in the kitchen. Her British television shows now fill her empty bureau. Her blankets are piled in an armchair in the corner. A rose colored handkerchief I found tucked in her scarves is now in a glittery stemless wineglass on my bookshelf.
We removed the painful things first, anything that reminded us of her physical hardship: her wheelchairs, the walker, the Hoyer, her BiPap machine. Those were an easy choice, the first things we all silently agreed to move the next morning. They weren’t her; they were a reminder she was trapped in her body every day. The space they occupied was avoided, and the house seemed quieter once they were taken away, like the spoiled foundation removed. Now we could mourn without being reminded of her pain.
Ending the year with a death marks every New Year from now on with a two-fold grief: the anniversary of her death and a reminder that we are heading into another year without her. There’s a vacuum of space that now occupies our lives, sometimes so large and unyielding that I can’t imagine ever finding a way through it or around it. There are times when forgetting for a few moments brings a larger bout of grief, and I wonder whether the sense of loss I feel is big enough to match how important she was.
- Loved ones over ambition (because one more night a week would have meant more time with her).
- Be a better big sister (because it’s one of the last things she made you promise).
- Take care of yourself (because if you had gone to the doctor earlier, she may not have gotten sick or you could have given her your antibiotics).
- Talk to God (because she went peacefully; she didn’t suffer, and you had a chance to say goodbye. That’s more than you hoped for. Thank God every day that you had more time with her than anyone expected).
- Be kinder to yourself.
Hailee Meyers is a 2015 Whitworth graduate with degrees in English and Political Science. After earning a certificate in publishing from the Denver Publishing Institute, she took a job with the Sheriff’s office to be close to family for her mom’s last few years (or months as it turned out). Currently, she is earning her next belt at Krav Maga Spokane and planning a re-entry into publishing and writing.