It’s been over a year and I can scarcely remember Toba’s voice. Sometimes if I stand still enough and think, I can hear his whisper before it fades away into the mist of time.
In that process I have become acquainted with the pain. It has stopped tugging at my heart and clogging my eyes with tears. Instead, it has become a still awareness in my spirit. It lingers there whenever I search for my brother’s face.
In those moments I search my memories for his smile, in those seconds I feel a glimpse of his eyes focused on my spirit. But then pain answers.
It answers with a stern voice of certainty: he’s not here. It pouts its lips in confidence and gives me a cold smile filled with the sting of death.
But now, I anticipate its presence and so I watch it as well. Stubbornly staring at it as I try and probe, scrutinizing its shadows, searching for my brother’s face. I refuse to let the trickle of his presence leave my spirit finally as I move forward.
I fight it even as I know it is a battle I have lost. Still I want to remember so I stubbornly sit in front of it demanding for my memories.
I look for the feeling I miss the most. When I would anger Toba with my voice, or even my shouts of irritation at his stubbornness. I look for those moments we fought like true blood siblings. I look for the times we laughed so hard we nearly felt pain from the force of happiness that lifted our spirits.
I look for his snigger of amusement as he tried to scare me into screaming. I look for that feeling of love that flooded my soul whenever I looked into his eyes.
And I feel it fade away into the distance. I tug at it determined not to let it leave. I fight the pain that has replaced his presence.
I search for Toba everyday. How? I think it happens when I try to remember the feeling of a sibling. I feel the absence of his presence burden my soul. It haunts me in different ways. When I look for his voice that would always answer my thoughts with confident reassurance, I seek his face. When I remember his beautiful smile, I try and remember the sound of his laughter.
And other times, when I face challenges that somehow have become heavier in his absence, I long for his thoughts and words of wisdom.
And so I converse with the pain trying to coax it into giving me back my memories.
I ask the sorrow for his smile. I question the silence for his voice. I watch the pain for a glimpse of his presence.
And I find I have begun to forget and that is the sharpest truth of all; that time has stretched past my memories and replaced them with a fog filled with emptiness.
That his time on Earth is done and my steps have moved forward; hence I cannot find my way back.
Back to our childhood memories of laughter, anger, pain and joy. I cannot find my way back to those moments I watched him so intensely as he told me about his dreams. I cannot find my way back to his laughter-that beautiful melody of hope that always sang in my spirit-yes, I miss that the most.
No, I cannot find my way back to that sibling feeling-you know right? That feeling you get from annoying your brother/sister just because of the unique joy it births in your spirit. That feeling of just being. The feeling of a sibling bond.
Pain reminds me I have begun to forget.
Stubbornly I refuse to listen to the truth in that fact. Stubbornly I still sit and try and feel his voice in my spirit.
And though he is gone, I feel a whiff of reassurance that he is present.
He is present because I am his sister. He is present because he is my brother. He is present because we are family.