Snow fell from the cold winter skies when my beloved sister was buried.  Miniature, delicate snowflakes seemed so out of place in the cemetery filled with grief, tears and darkness.  I stared into the sky, away from the casket, and became completely captivated by the gorgeous snowfall.  I needed something to distract my mind, even if only slightly.  Everyone who surrounded me — my best friends, my family — I loved them more than anything.  Watching them all break into tears and show that they too are human beings, and not gods, was quite a lot to handle.

I found it curious that was the first day it had snowed all year.  It was as if Nature herself spoke through the change of weather, or maybe it was that Stefanie was not even in the casket and has instead returned to the Earth as beautiful snow to comfort us during our nightmare of a reality.  But when I refocused my attention back onto the human realm, all of the comfort in my life was lost.

The universe was spinning through my mind, and I began to float through endless time.  Teardrops of nostalgia fell from my eyes and my face was bathed with liquid memories.  The memories began to flow before my eyes in a stream, before bursting into a vicious waterfall.  School, summer camp, Disneyworld, Europe, Florida, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and every memory I had in my entire life with her filled my mind.

I felt as if I was a worthless insect, suffering immolation by the magnifying glass of God.  I looked at the grave and failed to find any joy in Nature.  Even the warming smell of flowers seemed to stab my sense of smell with tastes of dreariness and disgust.

I looked around at my family and knew that they felt the exact same as I.  We were all so different in so many ways, but in this we were connected as one.  Without the love of my parents and brother, I would not have been able to continue my life with even the tiniest semblance of happiness.

We suffered the greatest melancholy of all: the death of someone that we love more than ourselves.  Death has spread from her body and into us, blackening our souls.  Or maybe it painted it a color other than black, for our souls were not completely dead.  Maybe it is simply a color that we have never seen before, but what I was certain of is that it is not one that I have ever cared to know.  Still, we continued to pull ourselves through this new, unfamiliar life because we knew that every time the sun falls, it must rise again.

Months after the funeral, I noticed something peculiar in a nearby park.  This oddity gazed into my eyes from above; it was a watchful owl!  I couldn’t remember the last time I have seen an owl before!  In fact, I couldn’t even remember the last time I have seen any creature as majestic as this in the suburbs.

But alas, there was an owl, and she rested on a tree branch under the moon.  The moon wore a bright, round halo and released a glow onto the Earth that was entirely absent of gloom.  The owl’s eyes reflected the moonlight’s shine onto me and I became blinded from the brightness.  There was not a single moment that I could recollect, up until this point in my life, where I was not trying to unbury the past memories from the grave of my old self.

Not a single moment, except for this one.

The strange beauty of the owl left me with fantastical and amazing dreams, which filled my mind with wonder.  These are dreams that I could barely remember, but I awoke with the leftover feeling of magnificence. This was odd considering that I had lost a family member such a short time ago, and such feelings should not exist anymore.  Nevertheless, dawn curiously smiled at me as I rose into the world of reality.  But this day, reality seemed more beautiful.

Evan Rieger 2011

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Evan Rieger

In 2008 Evan Reiger's twenty-two year old sister was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and in 2009, she passed away. This was during the transition period from high school to college for Evan, and nothing has had a greater impact on my life. Evan is currently concluding his junior year at SUNY-New Paltz as an English major. He grew up in Syosset, New York, and is the youngest of three children. He has been writing short stories and poems about his lost loved ones since he has entered college. Evan also writes horror, science fiction, and adventure stories as well. His memoir piece entitled, "Therapy For A Nerd," was recently selected by the writing staff of SUNY-New Paltz for an award of distinction.

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