It hits you. The pastel sky is pigmented lilac and periwinkle, preluding the setting of the sun. Your surroundings all reduce to a pale, lunar color, while mingling with the outline of your silhouette. Everything seems much clearer now, like the winter season disappearing as tiny flowerbeds sprout in spring.
Day by day, pieces of you adhere once again.
There is no guide or course teaching how to live after someone is taken from you. You watch the sunset morph into twilight as the ocean reflects the moon's face; you remember how your mom used to tell you stories of mermaids collecting seashells on the sand. At dawn, they would plunge back into the ocean just before anyone could notice their sparkly fins. If you woke up early enough, you could see their green tails disappearing into the waves as the sun slowly awakened from its slumber.
When she left, everyday you'd wake up trying to imagine what she would be doing at that time. You hear that 7:00am warning, "get up! Time for school!" You're there for the 7:45 Scolding, “Why didn't you finish your homework before school?" You never got that warning. You never had that argument. You reminded yourself of this every time you brushed your hair, rinsed your toothbrush, or tied a shoelace. She wasn't there.
The only thing you could do was write, write, write. Everyday, you would sit by the beach, hoping to see those mermaid fins, and wrote every little detail that you remembered of your mother: the color toothbrush she had, her favorite song, her colors of nail polish, the phrases she would say.
Her favorite book was "Into the Wild." Your father didn't understand it. Your mother had it by her nightstand, like a reminder of something, like her and the book had an understanding. You took that book when she left. Highlighted in one of the pages, it said, " ...how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong... but to feel strong.” You didn't know whether your mom read that in her final days, to keep her mind strong as her body failed, or that she always kept those words close. You'd never know.
The notebook came to you in third grade. You never used it. Until, one Thursday afternoon you had an anxiety attack as big as Alaska, and your trembling hands met with the book again. You took it down to the beach, in front of your house, and never stopped writing since.
The notebook goes everywhere. It has coffee stains, grass stains, and chicken noodle soup stains. The cover is faded and torn, but you somehow like it better that way. It has been used. It has life.
It has been there, like an old friend. It kept your secrets, thoughts, curses, and hasn't judged you for any of it.
It's the time you've been waiting for. You flip your fingers through the book, savoring the feel of the rugged, tan paper. Your fingers stop when they have come to contact the very last page. It's the last blank page. You promised yourself when this happened, that you would let it go. You take the colored pencils, tape, and glitter you've packed in your backpack. You begin by taking the pencils, and drawing beautiful mermaids on the notebook. "With sparkly fins," you say, as you add the silver glitter to the tails, "Maybe I can swim away with you."
Finally, you take the great oak tree seed you've been saving for last. You pull the tape into stringy, clear bands and tape the seed to your notebook.
It's time to say goodbye.
You carefully place the notebook, your friend, into the hole you've dug for it that morning. After a few months, a little sprout of an oak tree will appear from its pages underground. The memories, the time you've lost, will live and last forever. You kiss the book, plant it, and cover it with soil.
Like the oak tree, you've survived, you've thrived, and you've become strong.