the funeral is small, private, back home in
georgia, while the rest of us are
cleaning out her locker in the team room and
packing her life into boxes to be shipped
back home.
it would’ve been quick, the doctors told us. she
probably didn’t even make it to the
hospital, passed out in the ambulance
while they tried to stop the
bleeding and never woke up again.
they give us back the clothes she’d been wearing,
neat, piled in a brown cardboard box, the stained parka and the boots
and the helmet. still stuck in the crack down the crack
down the middle of the plastic was a few strands of
her hair.
the counselor reddens her lips more every morning to
distract from her wringing hands, sagging eyes,
working overtime now, checking in on every classroom,
every kid.
the school holds a service for her the
sunday after, four hundred of us lined
up in the auditorium, little programs printed on
red paper, a picture of half her face smiling, the other hidden
behind her ski goggles. we stand behind the headmaster as
he talks, in our team jackets, a line of stiffness and silence
and gray.

we don’t have a season after that.
♠ ♠ ♠
my freshman year of high school, I broke my leg in a skiing accident. a few years later, another freshman girl from my high school was killed in a skiing accident. the details are completely different, but writing this helped me process a lot of emotions I didn't realize I'd buried. this is for j., and this is for me.