Two months later
Two months ago today, my older sister, Ashley, was killed in a car accident. Needless to say, things aren’t quite the same.
I don’t hear music coming from her bedroom in the morning. I don’t find myself avoiding her leftovers in the refrigerator. I don’t park in the grass next to my driveway because all the usual spots are taken. I don’t get text messages inviting me to lunch before I go to work.
Instead I walk past an empty bedroom with a perfectly made bed. I peer into a refrigerator void of take-out boxes with Ashley’s name clearly marked to keep my father and I from snagging her food. I always have a place in the driveway, despite how badly I wish I still had to veer off into the yard. And when lunchtime comes my phone is silent and I head to work.
It’s been hard and it will only become more difficult as the months go by. Next month when my birthday rolls around and my family wants to take me to dinner, we’ll sit at a table for four as opposed to the traditional five.
Summer vacation time will come and Ashley won’t be here to beg every family member to go on a beach trip with her.
Come Aug. 21, Ashley’s 26th birthday, I won’t be scrambling to find her a gift because she’s nearly impossible to shop for.
And of course the holidays will be the worse. I don’t even want to imagine the mood surrounding my family on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In the past months I’ve tried my best to handle my family’s loss. I go about my business as I normally would, but at times the differences are too much to ignore.
Last weekend I visited my mother at length for the first time since Ashley’s passing.
In typical Travis fashion, I avoided the Ashley topic. I know how incredibly hard it has all been for her and I wasn’t sure if it was a discussion I was ready for. But as I glanced around her place and saw the pictures of Ashley on the wall and her urn sitting on a table surrounded by flowers and candles, I knew I had to open up with my mom.
We sat for hours and talked about how we were handling the loss and how everyone’s grieving process is different. I talked about how I hated the fact that I couldn’t find a recent photo of just Ashley and myself. I told her how I regretted not being around more during college so I could build those memories while I still had the chance. Of course I had no way of knowing that my time with Ashley would be cut so short, but I can’t bury those regrets ... I may never be able to.
After listening to me, my mom found an old photo album of Ashley’s and flipped through the pages until she pulled out a photo and handed it to me. In the photo I’m standing behind Ashley hugging her neck as she sits at our kitchen table. I’m probably 15 years old in the photo, which would make Ashley 17. We both look so different. My hair was shaggy and nearly covering my eyes and Ashley looked so youthful and happy. As I examined the picture I held back tears and my mom asked if I wanted to keep it ... I did. The photo now sits on my bedside table along with another photo of Ashley and I before her senior prom.
Like I said, things will continue to change as my family and I cope with Ashley’s death, but the memories I have will live on the same as they always have and only grow in importance. I love and miss you, Ashley.