Excerpt from Picture us in the Light

I think about how Sandra was mean sometimes, and funny, the things we used to laugh at together, and then I let myself think about all the horrible things you think about that will never go away. I think about her parents and how they have to wake up each day and do crap like–get honked at in traffic, or get guilted for not flossing better at the dentist, and how pointless and enraging it must all feel.

I’ve grown up knowing how when you leave the world–however it happens, however it went with my sister–you take a part of it with you, like when water dries up in a creek for the summer and it’s silent and lonely and parched. This is something I know now I didn’t then, though: that almost all of us have wanted to leave it before. Maybe you always do when your days feel like one endless night closing in on you and you lose the light, grope around in darkness before it starts to feel easier to just let it swallow you altogether.

But I also know you can try to rope off that idea that somehow you’d be better off gone and set your compass to some shore beyond it. I know it can be done.


Art doesn’t change the ending. It doesn’t let you lose yourself that way–the opposite, really; it calls you from the darkness, into the glaring, unforgiving light. But at least–this is why it will always feel like a calling to me–it lets you not be so alone.

–Kelly Loy Gilbert

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