In the darkness, the rattle of dog snoring, the rumble of cat purring, the overhead fan tick, tick, ticking. Outside the chitter of racoons eating the leftover birdseed on the patio, the trill of a screech owl looking for bugs, the thrum of a train in the distance.

In the darkness my mind races. Did I send that email? Oh, no I sent that edited document off before I did a global search and replace. I forgot to call the state about the tax check they never cashed. In four days my sister will have been dead ten years.  

In the darkness I sit up clutching my chest and rock with the ache of losing her.

In the darkness I know this pain will persist; an ache I bear willingly. Proof of love, proof of friendship, proof she existed when her face fades, when I can’t hear her voice in my head, when all I can remember is the way she looked on a ventilator, machines keeping her alive, in a prison she never wanted.

In the daylight I get up. I walk the dog, I send the email, I re-do the edits. I put off the calling the state, and I remember my sister is still dead.