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1974092801 (ISBN13: 9781974092802)
I brought them to the wilderness because we couldn’t cope with our reality.
No people. No technology. No interference.
But the wilderness is untamed and harsh.
Tragedy lives there too.
All you can do is survive where love, no matter how beastly, is the only thing you can truly count on.
Confusing. Wrong. Twisted. Beautiful. Sick.
Love is wild.
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Losing a child is inconceivable.
Anyone with a child always has that worry playing continuously in the back of their mind. Each time they’re at the water park. Every time they buckle their kiddo into a car seat. All those times they send their little ones off to spend the night with a friend.
That fear lingers in the shadows of your mind like a monster just waiting to come out and devour everything you hold precious.
Most of us don’t have to deal with such atrocities.
The rest of us get to know firsthand what it’s like to watch them lower your heart into the earth. Too soon. Too fucking soon. We get to watch our spouse collapse in on themselves and choose darkness over the rest of the family members who are still here. All of us who do lose a child get to know how it feels to have every memory ripped from your chest and scattered into the wind. There will be no new memories—all you have left are the ones that quickly slip from your grip.
Her voice, so much like her twin brother, both soothes and crushes me. My wife and I lost our son. But Devon lost her brother. The other half of her soul. A human she shared the womb with. Those two worked as two halves of a whole. Always anticipating the other’s emotions and aiding them when they needed it. Siblings who, even at ten years old, didn’t fight in our home.
I pinch the bridge of my nose and long for more of the whiskey but it’s gone. Downed the entire fifth tonight. Nothing can numb the pain that sears through me though. Fucking nothing.
When she was a toddler, she used to seem to squeak compared to her loud, wild brother. I’d called him Rowdy because he was rambunctious as hell and her Pip for pipsqueak.
Another throbbing ache in my chest.
“I miss Drew.” Her tone is sad. Nothing but a whisper.
I lean back in my office chair and regard my daughter. The only child I have left. For ten, she’s tall and lanky. Her wide blue eyes are innocent and full of soul. Lately they flicker with worry. Both of her parents have fallen off the deep end.
“I do too, baby.” I pat my lap and she runs over to me like she would when she was small. When I pull her into an embrace, I inhale her hair. Same shampoo Drew used. An obnoxious, ugly sob rips from my throat. “I-I’m s-so sorry,” I choke out, my hot tears falling relentlessly down my cheeks.
She sniffles and I hold her tighter. The counselor says we need to be strong for our remaining child. Sabrina can’t get her goddamned ass out of bed. It’s up to me to pick our family up and glue it back together.
Sometimes I wonder if we’re too broken.
“Did Mommy love Drew more? Is that why she’s so sad and won’t talk to me?” Devon’s voice cracks with emotion. She’s heartbroken for so many reasons. Losing her brother and mother essentially at the same exact moment has to be hard on her. It’s devastating to me and I’m a grown-ass man.
“Of course she loves you just as much,” I say fiercely. I stroke her satin blonde hair. “We just need to give her time. She’s sad. We’re all sad. Each of us will grieve in our own ways.”
“Promise you’ll always talk to me, Daddy,” she begs tearfully. “Even when you’re so sad or angry. Don’t leave me alone.”
More tears roll out of my eyes and soak her hair. I cry so hard that I can’t formulate words. All I can do is nod. Kiss her head and nod. She holds out her pinky and I hook mine with hers.
A pinky promise is what she calls this.
I vow to talk to her and love her even during the darkest of times. Although, I’m not really sure how life can get any darker than this.
You could lose your other child, the dark, menacing monster in my head growls.
I squeeze her tighter.
“I promise.” My words are a faint whisper but she hears. She always hears.
“I love you, Daddy.”
“I love you too, Pip.”
I’ll be goddamned if I let anything happen to this kid too.
That’s a promise I make to the ugly monster inside of me and force him back into the shadows where he belongs.
* * *
* * *
Sabrina stares out the window, her features hard behind her oversized sunglasses and too much makeup. I squeeze her hand but she doesn’t squeeze back. Six years after Drew’s death and my wife has yet to snap out of it. Depression is her middle name. Losing Drew was the final straw after years and years of tragedies that plagued our family. There was no coming back after that. She was lost. For me, losing Drew, was the most crushing of all the heartaches in my life. It was real. Tangible. Horrifying. And yet I couldn’t abandon our other child. She was still alive and very desperate for love.