Things like laws and promises are broken all the time.
Friendships fall apart.
That is what I know from having known you.
Since you left us, I have gotten everything I always wanted that we used to not be able to afford. But still, there's always some catch in it. I finally have a cell phone, but no friends to call. When I realized that as the only child I got all the attention during those weeks after your death, I didn't want it. All I wanted to do was sit in our room and cry. Alone.
We have enough money to go out to eat sometimes. I'm allowed to go shopping for fashionable clothes instead of whatever's on sale at Wal-Mart. I can go and blow some money on really expensive and way overpriced shoes that I'll probably wear twice. We' aren't rich since we don't have that eight million dollars, but what we used to use for your medical bills can be used for other things now. But every time someone at school compliments my outfit or every time we get home from the movies, when I should be grateful for being able to do those things, I'm just thinking about how I would give up all those, I'd give up shopping, going out to eat, being an only child. I'd give up everything and more if I could only have you back.
I think that it was all for nothing. I mean, the goal of the whole lawsuit was to get enough money to let you have the things you needed like surgeries, wheelchairs, and a bunch of other expensive things that kids with OI need. But to get that, I had to lose not only Emma, my best friend, but all my other friends. My life. And my mom, she had to lost her best and only friend, and almost her marriage. We really lost everything we valued to the lawsuit. It's because of that I don't have friends. It's because of that my mom isn't the same. And you know what we got out of it? Nothing. Not only that, but we had to lose you in the end.
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Mom hadn't sued Piper. Not the whole thing about losing friends and stuff, but would you have happened to be by the skating pond on that day at that hour, and would you have gone in? I've thought about that before. I've gone through every moment of that day, that week, that month, that year, until my head hurts.
But if I go back further, what if I hadn't been born? We spent a year thinking about if mom had aborted you, but why hadn't she aborted me? I mean, it seems logical. She was pregnant with me by a man she didn't really like, and when he wouldn't give up drugs, she broke their engagement. Why had she decided to have me anyway even though being a single mother, she knew, would be a challenge? Probably because she is Catholic and abortion is a mortal sin. For that same reason, she hadn't aborted you when the doctors realized you would have OI. But anyway, if I hadn't been born, Mom wouldn't have been at that skating rink dressing me up for my skating competition which is when she met Piper. If she hadn't met Piper, she wouldn't have met Dad since Piper introduced them. If she hadn't met Dad, you wouldn't be born. Mom would probably be a single pastry chef if I hadn't been born. Well, no. She might have married some other guy not half as great as Dad, but it wouldn't be the same. I can't imagine the world without knowing Piper, Rob, and Emma. When you were alive, here with us, when I imagined the world without you all I saw was pure hell. Now I need to live it.
Piper came to your funeral. She ran up and put her arms around Mom when they lowered your coffin into the ground like nothing had ever happened between them. Emma stood next to me as if she were still my friend, and after, I explained to her that the whole lawsuit against Piper; it wasn't my fault. I hated it more than she did. So why was she mad at me? That day, she understood and said she had been a jerk for blaming me for the whole thing, but we still aren't friends. Now we just aren't enemies. And Piper and Mom still aren't friends. I guess it's Piper and Emma's way of telling us that they feel bad for us, but we couldn't do anything to make up for bringing a lawsuit against them. What they don't get is that the lawsuit was really against us.
I always understood death. I knew that it meant that someone would die and you wouldn't ever see them again. When people told me I was too young to understand death I would tell them I did, but it is only now that I realize that I do not. I know that you aren't coming back. But it still takes me by surprise when I see that empty chair at the dinner table or when I look at the other side of our room and see your empty bed. Every once and a while I feel like something's missing. Something small. I realize that I'm just waiting to go to watch T.V. and find you sitting on the couch watching some stupid show. I'm waiting for you to tell me that Alaska is the state with the most outhouses.
Now, I'm an artist. I am organizing all my paintings for an art show. Well, I guess I'm saying that in a show-offy way. I'm a kid who loves to paint and I'm organizing my paintings for some student art show. Even though it's not an official one, it's a big honor.
I line all my paintings up side by side against the all. In a way, they seem to tell a story. First, I have the ones when you were with us. They're of nature, fruit, some of you, and then after you left, there are paintings of angry oceans, waiting to swallow me up, of unforgiving caves like the ones in horror movies. I look a little ways away at a painting I made a few days ago. It's in my pile of paintings that didn't turn out right and that I'm just going to use the backs of so not to waste the canvas. But this one is different. It's of a little girl sitting on a park bench by herself. The background is beautiful. It's a sunny day, birds are in the trees - the classic beautiful day. The reason it's a mistake is that I placed the girl too much to the side of the park bench so there's this empty space. I was tired when I painted it and didn't think to center her. But just before I place it on my easel to paint something else on it, I look more closely at it. Next to the girl on the park bench is nothing. Just an empty seat. It's like she's missing someone. Yet she's smiling like she doesn't have a care in the world. She looks like she's the happiest girl on Earth. I decide not to recycle the canvas. I keep it even though I can't possibly show it in an art show. But to me, that painting, it's the true sign that maybe I can live without you.