I was 16 when I learned to be afraid. News of her death left me in a strange, unbelieving fog. I was two people. One who could accept the news and mourn, and the other who made up theories about how she staged the whole thing and was secretly alive somewhere else. Theories I would tell no one. More than ten years after the fact and I am only just starting to understand what it meant to me.
This was a time when I learned that people would leave me. This hole that her absence had created would never get smaller, only bigger with other losses scraping away. This was a time when my heart would start pounding uncontrollably when anyone said “I have some bad news”. A thing that is still true today. This is what taught me to cling. To cling to everyone and everything. All the good times, all the bad. Any and all memories because I never knew when it might be over. On some level I became so afraid for myself. For what would happen to me when everyone else left me, as they were sure to do, this being the nature of life. This was a time in my life that would shape every other. The time that would teach me to attach myself and never let go. To fear loss at every turn. To anticipate it and ready myself. To become hard, which was really only ever me being softer. This was the time in my life that left me unprepared for everything that was to come.