When I try to remember her voice, her laugh, her face, my mind fails me. It hasn't even been a full two months and my memory seems to be betraying me already. I remember what we'd talk about, what we would fight about, but I can't hear it in her voice anymore. I remember how she would say things, but I can't hear the inflection in her voice. I can't hear her laugh. I can't picture her smile.
Today, I was scrolling through recent Facebook pictures to find this specific one of Lyss and had one of the most haunting realizations I'd ever had. I looked at a picture of her, one from just a few months ago, and she looked...different. I can't explain how she looked different, but in a way, almost unrecognizable. She looked like someone from my past, in the way that you may recognize somebody that you knew in high school, but never spent time with. In a way where I can't believe I had over two decades of many memories with her.
If this is already what's happening to my memory of my sister after 59 days, what is is going to be like a year out? Several years out? Will all of my memories of her be real or will they just be my own internalized creation of who she was?
Grief has a funny way of reminding you that you aren't supposed to feel okay. I go through my days and the relief of not worrying about my sister has provided a lot of comfort. But the specter of grief reminded me today that, in the absence of worrying about Lyss, my mind is filled by a newfound absence: fading memories. When I notice that it's been almost two months already, my mind spins. Two months seems like an eternity and an instant. I don't have a grip on how long a minute is anymore. I've struggled to sleep a full night's rest every day for two months; I've gone about my life, searching for fulfillment, towards an uncertain future, every day for two months; I've filled my mind with new memories, in a world without my sister, for two months.
I often wonder if our minds are capable of holding only a finite amount of memories. The science seems to support that to some extent. We don't necessarily push them out in the order we experienced them, but rather, each time we recall a memory, we coat it with the sheen of who we are at the time of recollection. I think there's some truth to the fact that our mind operates on autopilot sometimes to conserve space for the upcoming valuable memories, yet I wish I could just permanently save my most treasured memories of Alyssa and to hell with any upcoming ones. My memories of Alyssa over the last five years are shrouded by my growth into her little, yet protective brother. The fact that I grew into an adult, and as I grew older, my opinion mattered in her medical decisions, means that in some ways, I felt like her older brother. She was my big sister in mostly every way, yet that she respected my inclinations to be always looking out for her health.
Over the last two months, I've recounted some of my last experiences with Lyss and some of her last times doing some things. There was a last time she laughed, a last time she felt love, a last time she thought about me or my parents and so many other people, a last time she worried about my health, a last time we talked, or a last time I teased her. Life is perpetually unfair, but death, death is so, so final. For every day of my 23 years and 9.5 months, Alyssa was in my world. All of my memories, whether she was by my side, or halfway across the country, my mind was creating those memories with the knowing Alyssa was actively in my life, until she suddenly wasn't. My brain has spent the last two months trying to create new memories, all while realizing she isn't there.
I think that when I've been creating new memories, the pain of her death is still so palpable, my mind has been numbing some of the triggers. Maybe, as a sort of defense mechanism, my brain didn't immediately recognize Lyss to save me the pain that seeing her face or hearing her laugh would cause. Surely, my subconscious brain should've then predicted that the emotional pain I felt when it seemed like I didn't recognize my own fucking sister would've been exponentially worse.
Grief is so personal; it is a newfound territory that we all have to navigate differently. There is no guidebook that can conform to what we need it to. What could anybody say to me that would provide me solace today? I didn't want to talk about it to anybody, I only wanted to write about it.