This story is one of the July Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.
Sometimes I ask myself, what makes a bigger impact: gaining someone or losing someone? I have not yet been parted with a loved one through death, but I’ve witnessed someone else face that cruel challenge firsthand. Your beautiful Savannah, when she lost you.
The two of us knew nothing but long drives down foreign roads—complete with a sandwich bag filled with grapes between us. When we started wondering about the world, our favourite thing to do was to wander it, especially without a map in our possession. There was something thrilling about making your own way instead of finding it. I was always the designated driver as Savannah had not yet learned to drive. I didn’t mind, though, because I knew how much she enjoyed looking out the window at the world her mind was exploring, knowing that whatever path we took, at the end it would always lead right back to you.
Until she came back home one day—her mind filled with the scent of lavender fields and sun melting into them—and you were gone. I thought that our drives and Savannah’s world would never be the same. The magic in her eyes, in her mind, and in her heart had disappeared. Even the magic in the world went along with it.
It took me a dozen trips with Savannah, willing her out of the house to get her to open up to me. To ask her why she stopped seeing the beauty in the world that she used to see.
It was because the world that was once beautiful with you in it was now tattered and broken and grey. It would mockingly remind her of your absence with every move it made. The wind would caress her the way you used to. Starting at her nose then her cheeks and through her hair. The sunbeams would dance, leaving kisses on her nose just like you loved to do. And all too often, it would sneak behind the clouds, leaving her in darkness, reminding her of how you were snatched away.
It was our 37th drive since you departed this world. It was late morning, and the skies were pale blue. Any previous day, Savannah would have felt like some inexplicably greedy force had swept through the sky and sucked up its vibrancy. But that day, she found her finger pressing down on the window button, wanting nothing more than to move a little closer to the world.
Before she knew it, the sun was kissing her nose, reminding her not of heartbreak but of you, and she smiled. She realised that the winds were not against her. They were pushing her through each day like you used to. Without them, she would not be able to muster up the strength to let her feet sink into her carpet as she woke in the mornings.
The sun hiding behind clouds did not matter anymore. What mattered was when it drew from within the strength to come out from behind the clouds and shyly shine down on Savannah. The simple action that happened at least once in the afternoon—she had learned to look out for it—inspired her. She wanted to be that brave again. She wanted to face this different but still beautiful world.
With your presence still lingering in the world, she was able to find the good in everything. She learned how to hope for blue skies and butterflies and knew that even if a storm visited, they would always come back again. They would never truly be gone.