Yesterday was three years ago, passing broken bodies of deer on the sides of every road. Their white bellies, slender, bent necks. I thought of her. Every black-eyed doe was the crack of her forehead on the steering wheel. Every dun-colored body was the bruises they say marked her face, kisses from impact. Passing their bodies, I wondered if their lives left much of a mark on planet Earth.
Today was her mother’s arms around my neck, hands patting my back. And all the girls who just wanted her to return. We were daisy chains fluttering through that funeral home. We were the bleary-eyed and headaches from crying all night. Remembering her was laughter on a crowded couch, seated in front of a slide show of pictures. Of the life she lived and knowing that’s all there was left of it: photographs. Her feeding giraffes at the zoo; her stroking the chins of goats; her smile, the crinkles collecting around the corners of her eyes because when she grinned, all the stars were put to shame and the planets revolved around those lips.
Tomorrow was many months, some sporadic days after like a sudden outbreak of influenza, chaos and body aches. Her name became razors on my brain. Remembering her was passing a kidney stone, slowly. They say breaking a femur is the worst physical pain, but that is something one can explain. Symbols are for explaining. Experience is for knowing language will never be enough. Grief will continue to slip through my hands like the sunflowers I set on her unremarkable grave. That day, I walked away from a plot of earth heavy with so youthful a body. And the wind wove through the pines, whispering, Welcome to reality.