My 14 year old sister, Maria Romito, is secretly a warrior. Not many people are aware of this, but Maria was very close with Lexi. Whenever Lexi and I would make plans for her to come over my house, Lexi wanted Maria to hang out with us, too. Maria was half my little sister and half Lexi’s, that’s just how it seemed to be. I’d like to think that Maria was the little sister that Lexi never had, and I know that Lexi truly cared about her.
Today, two years and six months since Lexi was killed in a car accident, Maria sent me a personal narrative that she wrote for one of her classes. Her story is about losing Lexi and dealing with the grief, much like the one I posted earlier. I never knew Maria had such talent with writing until I read this and it brought me to tears. I hope it resonates with anyone that reads it as much as it resonated with me. Here is Maria’s story:
My father and I pull up to a small lakeside gazebo. The gazebo itself is simple, but the landscape around it makes it beautiful. The music playing adds a calming factor. The purpose it serves is even more significant. We walk over to it, in each corner there is a picture of one of four people who have passed away in a car accident together. In the middle, a picnic table. A certain picture catches my eye. Under it captioned, Lexi Poerner. The words strike me like a rock. Each syllable denting me, even now two years later it stills feel like yesterday.
A gorgeous summer day well spent outside with my family. I went inside and was watching a movie, relaxing. I heard the screen door open and saw my sister. She told me, “Come outside. Lexi wants to see you.” I walked outside to the familiar scene of a black Chevy in the drive way. Lexi would come over most afternoons after school. I went over to the driver side window, and saw Lexi, happy as could be. “Hi Chi!” I said, a nick name we both shared. “Hey!” she replied. We hugged and talked for a while, as usual. I will never forget the way her icy blue eyes looked in the low setting sun, like a glacier. It was strange, I have seen her many times before but this time was different. I was very observant for the duration of our conversation. It was an eerie feeling. I do find myself doing that often since that day forth. I observe unique characteristics of my closest friends and family. We exchanged good-byes, and I said “Love you, have fun.” It was a very casual and normal conversation. Little did I know, that was my last good-bye, and my last look at those blue eyes, forever in my mind.
I break from my stare, my Dad noticed. “It is a crazy thing, I always would ask, why me? There’s no good answer. It’s just because God knows that we can handle it.” Tears fill my eyes but, I have become good at holding them back. I breathe in, and out starring at the lake. Such a beautiful place for a memorial, and a perfect day to visit. We take a seat, I look into his eyes searching for a good reason, and it does not exist, yet. A cooling wind blows through and breaks the tension. I can tell he is ready to leave but, I am not. This is my first time here and my first time going anywhere to reflect since her wake. I never went to her grave site before. That is a battle for another day. I sit and feel the sun’s rays, warming my heart, I feel at home. I gaze and look out at the glistening water and slip into deep thought, of memories I’ll never forget but, changed me in a way that I don’t want to forget.
I walked down the hallway to the waiting room and sat with my dad and family. “Maria, you had asked about Lexi…” he started, “Yeah?” His eyes filled with tears, “She passed away honey, I’m so sorry.” My heart stopped, and dropped. With those words a part of me died. My thoughts were flying around the room leaving me dizzy. No, no, not Lexi, not true! I mean how could it be? Could it be? My mind was racing at a speed unfathomable. I left the room. I walked down a corridor to a waiting room. I was sobbing uncontrollably, an eruption of emotion came out all at once. I was enraged, “She was sixteen! What kind of sick joke is this? I must be dreaming.” Then, I became sorrowful, “Why her! Why this way? How, not Julia?” Much like the question why, there is no answer. At that moment I realized, I almost lost them both. Suddenly, the tears stopped streaming. I went into a deep, hard stare out the window. My emotions, plugged by thoughts, and what ifs. I was stone cold. I could not move for fear of questions from others. The same generic questions and ‘comforting’ words are the worst, “How are you doing? I know it’s hard but you can make it, Stay strong.” I do not understand why people say these things when they don’t understand. People can feel similar to you but, no one hurts in the same way. The people who say stay strong, I do not understand either. They say stay strong and offer moral support but, it is never enough. Greif must run its course before you ever feel better. A fake smile can hide a thousand emotions; a real one is a sign of healing. My step-mother walked out. She took me back to the waiting room where I sat, silenced by grief. I wanted to run, far, far away from everything. I knew I had to stay and be strong, for Julia and myself.
Tears are shed but, I am content and happy. I have a real smile on my face that will never fade. The sun is setting, and the lake shinning. I can feel her presence, I know she is here, for I feel wrapped in her love. I can hear her whisper, “Everything is going to be alright, I am always with you.” I will never understand the reason for her passing but, I know God must have big plans. This is the closest answer I will receive, in this lifetime. It is time. I get up from the bench, and make my way towards the car. I turn for one last view of the memorial, and say my goodbyes. The grief has shed from my body like snake skin. I am healing, and growing from the pain. I can think of her without my eyes filling with tears, and remember all the joy in my life she brought. I will share this gift with others, and help them too shed their grief. The sky is like the ocean, the air smells of sweet mimosas and the sun set a gorgeous scarlet. Only palm trees, and sand could make this more of a paradise.