Someone I dearly loved died this week.

After I found out she had passed, I turned invisible. Creatures around me became their own planets, rotating in separate orbits. Someone turned down the earth’s volume knob and the little pilotman in charge of keeping our world spinning slowed everything down.

The squirrel outside my car window acted like he couldn’t see me. I guess maybe he didn’t. But I saw him, and that made it worse because he was doing something important. It was obvious. He was focused and alive. The brown hairs on his back shivered. His tiny dark nails scratched the asphalt as he crossed in front of me.

Inside my car planet, I turned up the music, but familiar song lyrics took on new meaning.

“As many times as I blink I’ll think of you…I swear I won’t forget you.”

Everything reminded me that she was gone.

I drove downtown, but buildings shoved memories at me. That ugly place we worked together. We’d grab coffee at that Starbucks.

That restaurant was where we had lunch and she said it was okay that I left my job, that I left her. She said she wanted me to be happy and that I should pursue my passions. She hugged me goodbye, like always. She was so small, but she was the biggest person I’ve ever known.

December. Her birthday month.

Everything becomes a reminder. Or a metaphor.

Christmas carols. Rain. A woman walking alone.

I wait for my daughter to get off the bus. A little boy and his dad are waiting, too. The little boy stares up at a tall evergreen, tilting his head back further and further. His child face smiles up. All he can possibly see is sky. The vast, clouded mystery beyond where he stands. He giggles. He looks dizzy. He leans farther.

When he starts to fall backward, his face doesn’t change. He keeps smiling, like maybe he doesn’t know he’s falling. Or he’s not afraid. Maybe he trusts his father will catch him. Maybe he doesn’t mind falling, or he is so pleased with his profound, incomprehensible moment that he is holding on for as long as he can. Anyway, his father does catch him.

The sky is too heavy for me. Too risky. I don’t even want to watch this little boy finding joy in his wonder, because I just want to be sad. And angry.

All that space, white clouds, full of what? Too much carbon dioxide and humanity’s eventual demise. My death. What is there beyond that stupid sky, anyway?

Is she up there? Is she gone?

I want her back, damn it. And I’m sick of the rain. Fucking sky. She was my friend, my mentor. She inspired me to live better. To live stronger. I hate You, whoever you are, for taking her. For making her suffer with cancer.

I am still angry when my daughter steps off the bus. The lights are blinking. But she smiles at me like I am her sky. The world speeds up. Sounds are loud again.

I focus on her. I become visible, alive.