“To rise, first you must burn.” ― Hiba Fatima Ahmad
When you were alive, I never quite knew the day of your birthday. Kay had to inform me the day you were born–“Oh, did you know it’s Mike’s birthday today? I’m having cake and ice-cream later on. Pleeeeease Come, Kimmy!.”
I didn’t want to go, but I did. For Kay, the kids, Mom and Dad, because it was the right thing to do because I thought you might have changed and because I desperately wanted to love you and for you to love me back.
….because I thought you’d be different. You weren’t.
You sat at the kitchen table in silence, disconnected, discontented inside your own dark world like an odd character from one of Kafka’s books. You sat taking bites of sponge cake as if you were alone, as if you were isolated inside your mind, as if you were the only person who existed. Didn’t you know we were there, too, and your boys, and your gifts wrapped beautifully inside blue tissue paper and soft vibrant ribbons… and Kay.
Always Kay—trying to make everything better, sweeter, more bearable. Always Kay—making excuses for your abnormal behavior.
I remember staring at the multi-colored balloons floating about the living room thinking, “I should pop them, take out a pin this minute and make them all explode. Boom. I should press one firmly against your face for you to take notice, wakeup, stop eating your stupid cake and allow others, especially your children, inside your sad mind.”
I never really knew you.
How long did it take you to plan the murder, change the insurance plan, buy a gun?
Did you plan it from the beginning? Did you notice her walking around the Miller Hill Mall or Denfeld High School and declare, “I will kill that girl one day?” Did you see those big brown, vulnerable eyes and know you’d be able to control, manipulate, and own her like one of your pets?
You owned her for 25 long, excruciating years.
Why did you do it? Why didn’t you just shoot yourself first? Why did you need to take her with you? That beautiful Kaleidoscope. That incredible spirit.
Did you hate us that much? Did you want us to feel your pain, too? Did you utter a prayer, a benediction, ask for mercy before you pulled the trigger four times?
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
Did you have any repentance or remorse or humanity inside your body?
Are you in Hell? Are you burning?
Was it your intention to make us suffer every birthday, holiday, anniversary, the rest of our lives? Did you know I’d never, ever, in an entire lifetime find a best friend like her, a soul mate, a prayer partner, somebody to tell my secrets to?
Sometimes the pain is so severe; it’s as if my heart has shed its skin and blood and will never grow back the way it was. Sometimes I need to catch my breath when the hole gets too large, when I fall too deeply, when I drink too much red wine.
Still, in the midst of the shadows, I’ve come to the realization that you did not win.
Because Kay rises from the cold, Minnesota soil every single day without you, in spite of you.
She rises like those vibrant balloons from your birthday parties; a million voices lifting in the air.
It’s the strangest thing, but I remember the date of your birthday now. Perhaps, for the reason that I think of your mother on that day and wonder if she misses you, mourns you, visits your gravesite, leaves you fresh flowers, and wants you back inside her womb to start over.
Oh, God, I wish we could all start over.
Mike Peterson murdered my sister on May 26, 2010, but her VOICE has not, nor shall ever, be silenced. After 7 years, I’ve forgiven him.