My aunt Georgia had 7 children. Her youngest son, Nathan was born the same month as me.
He was only 6 years old when he was riding his bicycle in front of their house and was hit by a car.
My aunt heard the crash and the screams and she went running out to the road.
But there was nothing she could do. It was too late.
Her youngest child died in her arms.
One week earlier, Nathan had brought home a craft he had made at school. It was a Mother’s day bouquet of flowers he had made out of an egg carton and colored pipe cleaners.
Like all children, he was always bringing home drawings and crafts from school and many found their way into the garbage can.
After his death, my aunt frantically dug through the kitchen garbage can, tears streaming down her face, desperate to find the egg carton flowers she had mindlessly thrown away the week before.
She found them and she sat on her kitchen floor, clutching them in her hands as she cried and cried.
Life is cruel to us this way.
About ten years after Nathan’s death, while they were out for the evening, my aunt’s home burnt to the ground. Nothing was left.
Only rubble and the charred remains of what had been their home.
Everything was lost.
But somehow, two things were salvaged and found in perfect condition: Nathan’s baby spoon and the bouquet of egg carton flowers.
Life surprises us this way, making us believe that perhaps miracles do happen.
* * *
On the day of my aunts funeral a few years ago, in her open casket lying next to her, was the bouquet of egg carton flowers that Nathan had made.
She had saved and preserved them for almost 30 years.
I was sad that she had passed. But she had lived a long and beautiful life. But when I saw the egg carton flowers, it moved me to tears.
* * *
Each one of us is unique. And we will meet very few people who will fit perfectly into our lives, much like a missing key.
Like a missing piece that perhaps we didn’t even realize we were missing – until we are lucky enough to find it.
And when you find someone like this – your missing piece – you fucking hold onto them for dear life.
And if you should lose your missing piece, you desperately hold onto the things that remind of you them: like old photographs, or an article of clothing that still bears their scent, or maybe a cherished object.
Most times, the object we cling so dearly to, was something that meant nothing to us while that person was still in our lives.
Like egg carton flowers.
* * *
And now you are gone and I think of you every day. And there are no egg carton flowers to haunt me.
Only memories and dreams and plans and promises and words spoken.
And words not spoken.
No matter the circumstances – by death or otherwise – losing someone you love is painful.
There is an ache in your heart that never goes away.
And the beautiful memories torture you, keeping them alive in your mind.
Imagining they are close enough to touch, but never seeing their face again.
Like a beautiful angel that is just out of reach.
It tortures your soul and tears you apart. But you have no choice but to live with it every single day.
Because, what other choice do you have?
You never get used to the pain or that feeling of loss and it feels just as raw as it did the day you lost them.
And with each day that goes by, part of your heart dies a little more.