The news of Abbila and Sammy's father's passing was shocking, but not surprising, in that since their earliest waking memory both had known and understood the inevitability of death. Their mother passed when they were 4 and 5 respectively. Their grandparents passed in quick succession, boom, boom, boom, boom. Every year held a new death of someone close, a cousin, a friend, an aunt, a mentor. Death became almost like a yearly holiday, a birthday, or rather, a death day. There were more death days than birthdays these days. The girls grew up understanding the finality of each decision, each goodbye. This did not mean that death meant nothing, however, it anything they understood it better than most- the bittersweet nuances it held, the layers of grieving, the spirituality seeking, the final acceptance, the need for happy memories. Abbila and Sammy held on to each other through it all like survivors aboard a raft in the midst of a massive and deadly hurricane. They had become to each other and to most others as almost one in the same. Rarely did you see one without the other, even after Sammy got married and Abbila stayed single. Even through each pregnancy and birth and loss of child. Even these differences did little to differentiate them to each other or to others. They were like two fingers on the same hand, strong, unanimous and complementary, if slightly different in height.
Today, however, all that was changing. Abbila took her father's death in the usual custom. She grieved, she cried quietly and recounted happy memories, she made the necessary arrangements and phone calls, she filled out the appropriate forms and made those minor inner adjustments of what her future would now look like. No Father walking her down the aisle, should she ever change her stance on marriage. No more Sunday dates with Father over doughnuts and coffee, perusing and discussing the world's events printed in the newspaper. No more Christmases spent around a cozy fire making up songs together while Father strummed his beloved guitar. No more Father. And that was that, sad and final.
Sammy took the news... Sammy took the news with a laugh. As if a final straw was breaking in the concrete of her core and the crumbling of it tickled her. She laughed like a hyena. She laughed with such gusto it woke her newborn baby in the other room. While the baby screamed and cried, Sammy laughed and laughed. Abbila stood stunned and quietly left to tend to her baby niece. Sammy's husband arrived after a small time and took her in his arms, but Sammy kept laughing. She laughed so hard she contracted the hiccups, which after several hours turned into burps and eventually... vomit. When at last she was quiet, she seemed to turn to stone. She sat, like a statue, on the edge of her bed and stared at the wall. A look of perplexity set into her face, like she was staring at a math equation that was eluding her. Sammy was something of a math whiz, math wonder-kin. She'd given up a mathematical career to focus on motherhood and wifery, but always in her free time she would take to the numbers and calculate her answers ferociously and with great passion and care. Now, however, was in front of her an equation with which she could not make sense nor sound of.
Abbila stood in the doorway, hesitant to speak or move for fear that she may induce in her sister another fit of unusual hysterics. Sammy's husband, Brian, came to join her in the doorway with baby Molly in arm. "Anything?" He asked her. "Nothing," she answered. He retreated like a defeated soldier back into the living room. Abbila took a deep breath and entered slowly. "Is there anything I can get you?" She asked. Sammy shook her head. Abbila sat next to her and like an opposing magnet, Sammy stood and walked to the other side of the room, crossing her arms. "Sammy...?" "I can't. Just- go." Abilla was stunned. Never had they ever not been able to talk or hold each other through their worst of times. Never had one of them ever requested to not be in the presence of the other. "Sammy-" "GO!" "...Okay." And she left. And as she did, the world turned on it's head and all the blood inside her body gushed down to her feet.
When Abbila got home she slid down the front door to the floor. Walking any further into her apartment seemed an impossible feat. She struggled to breath, as if the air had turned to bricks around her, heavy and unforgiving. She worried, as she'd never worried before, that this death may be her sister's undoing, the last loss she could accept. If Sammy could not accept any more loss, if Sammy could not accept this loss... Abbila could not even contemplate it without getting so woozy in the head she felt her consciousness slipping away. If Sammy could not accept the loss, Abbila would lose Sammy and that was the one and only loss Abbila had left to fear. She laid her head on the floor and felt the cold tile with her hands and ear and cheek. Salty tears formed a puddle beneath her head gluing stray hair strands to her skin. She moved her hand rhythmically back and forth and found it soothed her. She moved her hand back and forth until the air released a little of its hostile grip and she found the courage to sleep.