The Rain’s Embrace
October 22, 2018
“Mom, I’m going out to hang out with some friends!” my sister shouts out to my mother who is in the kitchen.
“Okay honey, be safe… it’s raining cats and dogs out there, so text me when you get there!” my mother yells back to her, probably too afraid dinner will burn if she moves away from the stove for too long.
“Okay, I will. Love you!” Emily, my older sister of five years, comes up to me. I’m sitting in my favorite chair, reading a book.
I lift my head up to look at her. “Hey sis, where are you going?” I put my book down to give her my attention.
“Just out with some friends. We’re gonna catch that new movie that came out the other day… you know, the action one? Looks good,” she smiles down at me.
“Cool, tell me how it is, will you?”
“Of course. Well, I gotta head out, I’m in charge of driving tonight, so I’ve got to go pick everyone up. Love yah, Joan, see you later,” she kisses the top of my head, just like she always does.
I scrunch up my nose, and return to my book, muttering a quiet “Love you” back to her. Then, she’s gone with the soft click of the front door, the rain immediately swallowing her whole.
I shrug off a sudden gut feeling, like something bad will happen, just thinking it had to do with my story. Yet, a few hours after that, dinner being done and still no word from Emily, we hear a knock on the door.
“Wonder who that could be at this hour?” my mother asks herself as she goes towards the door. “I’m coming! I’m coming!” she calls out to whomever keeps knocking on the door.
“Yes?” my mother asks as she opens the door, then she tenses up as she takes in the somber expression of the police officer standing under our porch roof that is shielding him from the storm.
“Ma’am? Are you Mrs. Gray?” his monotone voice drifts towards my ears, and I walk up behind my mom as she stands stiff-legged in the doorway.
“Yes, is something wrong?” Her voice is but a whisper.
“Mrs. Grey, I am sorry to inform you, but there has been an accident. Do you have a daughter named Emily Grey? Does she drive a Honda Civic?”
My mom croaks out a sob, and I answer for her, “Y-yes…”
“There was a two-car accident and a Honda Civic was thrown into a tree. Inside was a young girl and three other young passengers. She did not survive, and we found her drivers license; I’m sorry, but your daughter died on impact. Her airbag failed to go off in time…” He has taken off his hat and his eyes are now downcast, I suppose so he doesn’t have to make eye contact with my mother right now.
“N-no… that can’t be right. You’re wrong! Emily can’t be de-dead… she-she can’t be dead!” Mom collapses to her knees, her emotions overtaking her as she continues to sob and scream over Emily.
“Are you sure it was her?” I ask him, my quiet voice almost being drowned out by mom’s screams.
“Yes. I’m sorry. You can come down and identify the body, if you want to make sure, but we found her driver’s license, and the picture matches the driver. I’m truly sorry for your loss.” He places his hat back onto his head and becomes engulfed by the storm, just like Emily has been.
I wrap my arms around mom, and sit there with her sobbing into my shoulder. She continues to babble uncontrollably until I can no longer comprehend what she is saying in her grief.
I, on the other hand, don’t shed any tears. It doesn’t feel real, and so, my tears don’t fall. My sister is the strongest person I know; she’s about to go off to college with a full academic ride, she’s going to be a famous scientist… she’s going to chase her dreams. She can’t be dead, I just have to keep repeating that to myself, and it will be true. It has to be.
I half carry, half drag my limp mother in my arms over to the worn couch; that way, I can close the still-gaping door. I then sit next to her and let her wrap me in her warm grasp. I suppose she needed to make sure that at least one of her daughters is still safe.
The next few days move by in a blur. We end up going and identifying that the body is, in fact, Emily. Even with a gashed forehead from the impact, and dull skin and pale, blue lips, she is still beautiful. They say that she didn’t suffer, so I guess there’s that.
The funeral is as depressing as any other funeral, only more so because Emily was so young. Nearly everyone from town is there, even her banged-up friends that were with her that night. Jim is in crutches because he broke his leg; he was in the passenger seat, and the tree impacted that side of the vehicle. Maria has a broken elbow and bruises on her face. She was on the passenger’s side of the car in the backseat. Finally, John has whiplash, a minor concussion from hitting the back of Emily’s seat before his seat belt snapped him back, and a sprained wrist from trying to catch himself against the seat.
They all gather together in front of Emily’s casket that is covered in flowers, and hold each other as they replay that night over and over again in their minds. Once they move back, they stand, still as statues, at the back of our group that was sitting down. Still, I did not shed any tears.
Now months later, that is the thing I regret the most. I didn’t cry at my sister’s funeral. All I did was say a few words in front of everyone, place a sunflower, her favorite, on her casket, and then sit back in a numb state of living. Not truly listening to what tearfelt people had to say, not really paying attention to who was around me, only staring at my sister’s final resting place.
I couldn’t help but picture what she looked like the night she left our house for the last time. Her soft smile, the kiss she placed on my head, and how I reacted to her kiss. If I could go back in time, I would engulf her in my embrace, and bar the doors so she couldn’t leave us. So she couldn’t leave me.
The only place I can go now to truly feel her is whenever there is a rain storm. That is the only time I can quiet the screaming in my mind. That’s when I can feel her. I feel as if she is there with me whenever it rains, as if she is dancing in and out of the puddles with me.
I am thinking of this as I stare out of my bedroom window, watching the dark storm clouds close in on our small house. I move from the window, and go about putting on my rainboots and jacket, and prepare to be out in the storm for as long as it chooses to stay.
Until she moves on like she always does.
I walk slowly down the stairs, and find my mother in the kitchen. She has been cooking and baking more than ever now; I guess that’s her way to ignore the pain. She usually gives the uneaten food to the homeless shelter in town.
“Mom?” I gently place my hand on her tight shoulder as she stands over a mixing bowl. She snaps her eyes to mine, seeming to break from her own mind.
“Yes, Joan?” she voice holds no emotion. It’s as if, when Emily died, so did my mother’s spark.
“A storm is coming… so I’ll be outside if you need me.” I press a kiss to her cold cheek.
“Honey, I don’t want you to catch a cold being out there. Why don’t you just watch this one from inside?”
I immediately begin to shake my head at her. “No. I find peace in the rain.” My determined face must tell her not to question why I find peace in it, most likely because she knows why.
“Okay, sweetie, be safe, and if it starts to get too bad, please come inside.” She kisses my cheek, and then returns to her baking as if nothing has been said between us.
I make my way towards the front door and step out just as the first raindrop falls from the sky. I sigh in contentment and smile up at the dark sky, feeling as if Emily is smiling down at me.
I open my arms and let the now steady downpour of rain take me into its embrace, knowing Emily is holding me tight, just like she used to.
“I love you too, Emily,” I whisper as the rain kisses my flushed cheeks, my tears mixing with the rain.