Death has a way of making you larger than those you’ve left behind. Your absence is a vastness that grows every year in the lives that must somehow move on without you, lives in dotted lines drawn around the space you filled. For the longest time I wondered who would walk me down the aisle. Whose was I to give away?
They were picked off, one by one, the men in my life, by sickness and choices and disappointment, the space growing between us until they disappeared. But, there’s always you. The north star, the place where all this dying began, until I cordoned myself off behind an imaginary red brick wall, inaccessible, indestructible. I couldn’t be touched. It is no way to live—being in the world but not of it, unable to see what others see, unable to touch or feel or be fully present. It’s a lived in death. And, though self-inflicted, this isn’t who I am.
Knowing that is a revelation. It’s a start to the necessary reminders to speak myself back into existence. Even my name, Saida (sy-ee-da), means joy. Like a prayer, it’s a reminder of the thing I am made from. Even in pain, I am joy. It is the greatest gift you’ve given me.
I used to look at your faults, absorbing them until I became them too. But your legacy is one of a blinding love that absolves. I hope you’ll forgive me for forgetting that the most beautiful thing about this life is that in a world constantly trying to redefine who I am, I must remember I belong to me, that I am mine to give away, that I am mine before I am anyone else’s.