“Remember that night we drove back to Paris with Mom and Grandpapa that one summer?” he says, looking out the train window as dusk fell over that same city.
“I think it was in 2005? Were we coming back from Dijon?” he continues.
My heart skips a beat and I feel the goosebumps form under my winter layers.
“Yes, I remember. It was in 2004,” I reply softly, knowing exactly the night he’s thinking of, mesmerized by this cohesion between my brother’s memories and mine.
“It was just so peaceful to see the city at night like that. With Mom…” his voice trails off.
“I think about that night a lot,” I respond, turning away to hide the tears welling up in my eyes. Tears of understanding and of being understood.
We have never carried our grief in the same way. We lost the same mother but we have felt and expressed it so differently. There have been many times over these past couple of years when these differences have left us feeling worlds apart from one another as we’ve forged our own paths in coming to terms with our shared loss. And yet, we have both held on to this one memory, this seemingly mundane moment in time that for whatever reason survived the hundreds of thousands of ordinary moments that have made up our lives since. But I have savored this memory often; it’s like taking a bite of chocolate or having that first sip of wine at the end of a long day.
As the train slinks through the suburbs, I feel the power of our connection to this memory and this grief that only we can understand. I am eleven again. I am in the back seat of my grandfather’s dark green Citroen, my cheek pressed against the window as I watch Paris sprawl out before me. Skirting the city’s perimeter headed north, we are practically alone on the highway. It’s late and a calm has settled over the car, the usual bickering between siblings confined in a small space for a long period of time has finally ceased. My brother appears to be asleep and this pleases me, to be the one who stays awake late into the night with the grownups. Hushed voices drifting from the front seat, the melody of Mom’s voice mixed with Grandpapa’s deeper one, always steady and reassuring. Not the kind of whispering that signifies secrets or bad news, I gauge. I am already aware that this state of existence is fragile.
It’s a warm night so I roll down my window and relish the feeling of the wind on my face, blowing my hair in every direction. The city’s lights are captivating and I follow them closely for a long time. I close my eyes. A sense of peace has draped itself over me and I wonder if we have to stop, if we can just keep driving through the night forever so that this feeling never disappears. Anything seems possible because this is my family and my life and I don’t want it any other way. I am fighting sleep now. Before I drift off to sleep, I know what it means to be happy, to be safe, to be loved. In that moment, all was right in the world.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Easy Fix.”