January 31st.....its that time of year again. It's the fifth anniversary of my sister Claire's death. I still remember that day so clearly, her laying still in the hospital with ghost white skin and her eyes shut peacefully as if she was asleep, as the beeping of the machine slowed as they slowly let her go. She died from brain cancer, a tumor that she fought for 10 years but eventually became too weak to fight. There were days I envied her infectious spirit and how she could charm anyone, especially all of the guys. After she was gone I spent time wishing I had spent more time with her and less time envying her and coming up with ways to get her in trouble. I guess thats what all little sisters do.
I trudged through my day, which seemed to take forever and the standstill weather and gloomy clouds hanging over my head weren't helping either. When I finally got out of my last class it was almost dark. I noticed a bonfire going on at the park as I passed by and decided I would stop by and warm up for a little since I had some time to kill before 9:16. That's the time I visit Claire's grave each year since it's the time I got the call about her accident. I have a thing with remembering dates and times for some reason. Like it was exactly 6:42 pm on December 10th that I walked away from Pablo in a state of disarray and tears. It was at 8:53 am on December 15th that I unlocked my new apartment, 217 for the first time. And there are 379 days left until I graduate from City and move on with my life hopefully.
It was at 8:23 that I arrived at the bonfire and sat down on a bench near a teenage boy scribbling furiously on a notepad. I noticed when he finally looked up that he had beautiful green eyes full of knowledge and wonder. When I asked him what he was writing he quickly answered "a poem," and proceeded to close the notepad and stand up in a hurry. The only thing I managed to catch was the words "to my mother, may she never be forgotten." Before I could ask him anything else, he mumbled "sorry, I have to be at the diner, and promptly buttoned his coat and walked towards the path back to Shellac. Well, so much for my mom's advice about "putting yourself out there with new men."
After watching his shadow disappear into the trees, I gathered my things and headed towards Blue Blvd to grab some flowers at Kroger for Claire's grave, orchids, her favorite. On an whim, I grabbed a box of lindt truffles, Leonard's favorite. He may not be 20 or handsome like the bonfire boy, but he's got a Y chromosome and a stable job, albeit a grave digger. When I got to the back fence of the graveyard I checked my watch: 9:09, I had to hurry to make it to her grave and have it prepared for my reading at 9:16. I jumped the fence although tearing a hole in my favorite jeans in the process and sprinted to the maple tree in the front corner of the cemetery to the small grey stone. I could trace the carving in my sleep, "Claire Thomas, loving daughter, sister, friend and community member. A true inspiration to all." I spread the orchids into a "C" shape and waited until 9:16 to begin reading "Hope is the Thing with Feathers" Claire's favorite poem. When I finished reading, I noticed Leonard standing near the tree. He came and put his arm around me and we sat like this underneath the tree until dawn alternating between my crying and eating truffles.