I had planned for everything but this


It has been two months since you almost died. And I am just coming out of the desperate, hopeful panic that has fueled me like caffeine.

Over and over, the rush.

Everything is fine. He will be okay. He can’t really die, can he? 

Over and over.

Because that was not part of the plan. I had not planned for my brother to die.

The only person who serves as witness to my life. Who watched me grow and fight and love my way into becoming the woman I am now.

Who knows my scars and how I got them.

The only person who speaks the same language as me. The language of siblings.

Where a flick of the eyes means “stop.” A nod of the head, “Let’s go.” Soft smiles, “I love you.” (So many soft smiles.)

We were supposed to do this together. This life. All of it. That was the plan.

So I had planned for everything but this.

I had planned for our parents to die. To watch them slowly decline, becoming more childlike as they aged.

I would care for them and forgive them and gradually let them go.

I had planned that my husband or I might die. We’d drafted our wills and took out life insurance, just in case.

I’d told him to remarry if anything ever happened to me.

I had planned for our grandparents to die. And when they did, we cried together. We did Grandpa’s eulogy together.

Always together.

So I was not ready for this. For you. I had planned for everything but this.

I’d always assumed I would die first. As children, you were the shadow following me, calling out for me to wait. And I would wait. A girl and her shadow.

I thought it would be the same, except in death. I would go and you would stay. Because you were younger than me. Better than me. And you had so much more living to do.

So when you almost died, I was confused. Disoriented.

I took a shower, only to put my pajamas back on. I tried to pack, but couldn’t decide how many pairs of socks I would need.

I walked off the plane without my bags.

When I arrived at the hospital and saw you there, breathing but not breathing with the tubes coming out of your lungs, everything closed, everything silent…

This is when I planned for you to die.

This is when I found meaning in the moments we’d shared as children. Remembered how you always tried to keep me safe. From garbage trucks and ghosts in the closet and teenage boys who leered at the pool.

This is when I recalled your face as it changed and matured over the years. Remembered how it shifted from soft curves to angled jaw. 

Reflected on how we had grown up, and grown apart.

This is when I planned to show your daughter as much of you as I could. To teach her how to laugh your laugh. How to read my soft smiles. 

Tell her that this was her father’s language as well.

This is when I planned for you to die.

But you didn’t.

You didn’t.

And so now, as I look at all of these plans, I see my sweet, tragic attempts to control our mortality. To control death.

My parents. My husband. My children. All will be lost and forgotten someday. Every single one will die.

You will, too.

And there is nothing I can do to plan for it. Because there is no planning for death, only life.

Only life.

So I will plan for that instead.

8 thoughts on “I had planned for everything but this

  1. Anonymous says:

    You are an amazing writer Alexis. So much beautiful insight and a way to put on paper what so many people are probably thinking but can’t articulate. So touching and yes we have to choose life!

    Liked by 1 person

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