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Gone- A Short Story

Anne is a freelancer with a passion for writing and helping others by writing about important topics and issues.

Gone

gone-a-short-story

An Absent Holiday

This was the first Thanksgiving without him. No awkward conversations, no blank stares. No endless conversations about nothing in particular. No music references on the end of his lips or trivia about some random movies. My sister casually washes the dishes after our meal as music fills the room, and my parents sit outside on the deck enjoying the warm weather. All of this seems like a normal Thanksgiving Day. But it’s really not normal without him. Even with his crazy, flighty ideas and up and down mood swings and unpredictable ways, Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving without him, or at least so it seemed. When someone is gone, the world doesn’t stop moving. Everything is still moving forward all around. Cars passing on the highway, warm hearts leaping into grocery stores for last minute Christmas gifts on Black Friday. There is still life after we are gone. The word “gone” itself is so much more than what we think it means. He’s not dead, but he is gone. Life has to go on. It’s hard to imagine not being around family during a time when I feel like we need family the most. There is so much uncertainty in the world right now. I heard a song yesterday by The Clash. This is a band that always reminds me of him. Whenever I hear the first hums of the guitar chords through the speakers, I can see him so clearly in my head. Whenever I hear The Beatles and John Lennon’s haunting voice, I think of my brother.

Holiday Memories

I can clearly remember Thanksgivings at granny's house. Me, my brother, and my sister running around in the yard. Me, my brother, and my sister eating PB&J sandwiches with granny’s homemade strawberry jam. Me, my brother, and sister. It’s always been the three of us. For as long as I can remember, on Christmas morning at about 4am, I would hear a whisper at my door. My sister would wake me up. We would run into my brother's room and pile on his bed, thinking about all the things Santa may have brought us this year for Christmas. Mom with her giant camera and all of us clunking down the stairs to the den to go open our presents. The smell of cinnamon buns and my dad’s coffee, (when he used to drink coffee) as we ran down the steps. There, underneath the brightly lit Christmas tree were our gifts. They weren’t wrapped, but it made it easier for us and we, of course, didn’t mind. My sister screamed “Pretty Pretty Princess! What I always wanted!” with such excitement. I look puzzlingly at the gifts and the large object with a blanket over top of it as mom and dad say “Baby, go look at your presents. What did you get?” I’m only 2 or 3 years old at the time, so the most I am saying is “Big bird” and “Little Mermaid” and “teacups! Teacups!”, when I see the big bird flashlight, Little Mermaid slippers, and set of teacups propped against this other gift. What is underneath that blanket? My mom pulls the blanket off to reveal a little play kitchen, just for me. I am walking around it and my mom is filming me and I can tell that I was the center of attention, because I am so darn cute. This is what holidays used to be like for us. This is what a normal holiday was. Until now.

Coronavirus has shattered any hope that all of our family would come over on Christmas day. Those were the most exciting times. When my brother, sister, and I were little, and all the family came over. The living room and kitchen and den were always full of people. Laughing and talking and laughing and talking some more. My younger self would always get excited because I couldn’t wait to see what gifts I would get from my aunts and uncles. When my grandparents were still around, we would also get gifts from them. We had to have been the luckiest kids on the block to have so many adults that cared about us and wanted to give us gifts on Christmas. This wasn’t even counting neighbors of course and mom and dad’s friends who also showered us with gifts on Christmas day. There was never a Christmas where we were short on gifts, that’s for sure. It wasn’t just about the gifts. As we grew older, what became even more exciting were the family memories. My older cousin with his goofy grin doing something stupid to make us laugh as we circled around the dining room table to get our food. My uncle's laughter (with a few coughs here and there due to his smoking) filling the living room as my mom told him something funny. My aunts' high-pitched voices cascading down the stairs as they exchanged gifts with each other. These were the kinds of things that made Christmas truly special in our family.

gone-a-short-story

Reflection

How can someone seemingly have everything and nothing at the same time? It’s a question I often ask myself when I start staring off into space and NOT concentrating on my writing. Those moments when writer’s block hits me so hard that all I can do is stare at the laundry room door and listen to the hum and hiss of the dryer as the clothes tumble. I wonder to myself if what I’m doing here is even worth it, if I’m even worth it. I find myself having sleepless nights where there is part of a story in my mind, but I just can’t seem to get it out on the page. I have moments when I am standing over the sink washing dishes, my hands full of soap suds, and then, an idea comes to me. By the time I have dropped the dishes and gotten a hand towel to wipe the soap and water off my hands, I have completely forgotten the point. Sometimes I just don’t know where my mind is going. Maybe that’s part of being a writer, but maybe that’s just also a part of who I am. You see, as I type this on my shiny new laptop, I am thinking to myself how I would just like to go and lay in bed and disappear for a while. Just get completely lost in nothing. Maybe I could scroll through Facebook and Instagram and worry about what everyone else is doing. I can compare my non-successes (basically failures), to the successes of others. I can set unrealistic expectations for myself and make myself feel horrible. Or maybe, just maybe, I could scroll through YouTube and watch a bunch of meaningless videos to get myself out of my own head. Sometimes I find that that calms the racing thoughts. Really, the bigger question is what if I actually sat here and wrote this story? What if in one paragraph I had written, I had found the answers and the meanings I had been looking for all these years? What if? I can’t tell you how many times I have asked myself that question, and not in the most stoic of places either. Maybe I was in the bathroom reading the label on a shampoo bottle and I thought what if? Maybe you are actually sitting on the toilet right now and asking yourself the same questions. But that’s not what we are here to talk about, is it?


gone-a-short-story

Final Thoughts

All my life, I have been searching for this truth or this piece of me that I feel is missing. The closer I get to a happier, healthier me, I still find that I am missing something. I don’t know what it is. Is it motivation? Is it happiness? Is it persistence? Is it because I am 32 and I haven’t had children yet? If I could just reach out and grab that one thing, I feel like I would be more fulfilled in life. I just don’t know what I’m looking for. Sometimes when I think about that, it reminds me of the missing pieces of my family. The things we can't say one another; the closure we will never get, and it hurts. Maybe what I am most longing for is acceptance. I have felt so invisible for so long, like no one is really listening to me, that maybe the validation is what I need. No matter how hard I try at this life thing though, it seems like I’m always running in circles. Things seem to be moving forward and then POOF! Ten steps back. That’s what they say life is. A series of bumps in the road, ups and downs. They make us believe when we are going through adolescence that one day, we will just be an adult and understand everything. They don’t tell you about all of the troubles and hardships, they don’t teach you about the heartache and the pain. Being an adult is just hard.

A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through my old Facebook memories and one of them said “If I don’t become a writer by the time I’m 30, it will never happen.” I’m almost 32 now and it STILL has not happened. I don’t know what to tell my 23-year-old self about that. Most of the time I feel like my dreams are just pipe dreams and things that will never happen. I hate to be horribly depressing, but this is really what goes on inside a writer’s mind.

I do have something, though. I have my grandmother. She has always believed in me, always knew that I was a writer, and it was a talent of mine. As I sit at this dining room table, I glance over to the bookshelf next to me and see the pictures of my grandmother and me. The plate she gave me that she wrote “Young Author 1995” on. It makes me smile and for at least a few minutes, my heart is no longer racing because I can feel the calm. I feel the presence of my grandmother by my side as I write these words, and I can see her sweet smile as I continue to type. If I ever had a reason to publish a book and be a writer, it would be her. It would be the legacy she left behind, the family that I grew up with, the connections and bonds that shape and mold us and make us who we are; that’s what I want to talk about. My grandmother helps me see that. My grandmother is gone, but she will always be by my side whenever I am writing.

© 2022 Anne Marie Carr

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