We did not expect her. There was no reason to do that, especially after we had buried her only a couple years back. When she rang, the doorbell did that strange repetition, the way it sounded back when she was alive. When our mother opened the door, she stood in front of her for a long time. Then, almost in slow motion, she fainted. I ran towards her and checked for bruises, trying to wake her up and the same time. I had neglected to look at the door and at the person standing right there.
She came in as my mother recovered her senses and started crying for no apparent reason. I told her to relax and, as I could, I helped her to the couch, where she could be much more comfortable. Then, I realize the door was still open, so I walked towards it and closed it. When I turned around, it was as if I had a vision. I saw my father, by the window, holding my sister’s hand. He looked at her as if it was the very first time he was looking at her brown eyes and long hair.
The vision was special, as they were both standing against what little light entered the apartment. It was raining a lot outside and we hadn’t turned on the lights inside the house. The vision was so special; that I absolutely forgot about my mother in the couch or that my sister couldn’t be there because she was dead. But it was my mother who dragged me to the real world when she asked, almost in a whisper, what my sister was doing there. Strange enough, my sister laughed.
It was a very particular laugh. Not a loud one at all. To be honest, the sound seemed to be coming from a place much farther than the living room next to the window. I walked towards her and then I saw her body very next to mine. My response came in without intention, just from deep within my soul: I started crying profusely. Think tears ran down my face and landed on the floor making a very particular sound. I noticed my father was also crying and my mother had fallen silent.
It was her, walking slowly from the couch to the window, who looked at my sister and asked her if she was doing fine. The question was exceedingly strange but my sister had no problem answering it. She told us she was perfect, had never been better, but that she had been granted a special permission to visit us. Apparently, after you die, you get to come back once, wherever and whenever you choose. She had decided that was the perfect time to come and visit us. We asked her why and she explained it had seem like the best moment to her.
That answer confused me a lot but it didn’t seem to mind my parents. Their faces denoted happiness beyond anything they had felt in a long time. It was sad to realize, but I hadn’t been enough for them to be happy about. To be fair, I didn’t really bring a spark of joy into the house. My sister, on the contrary, had always been full of life and that was apparently still true, even if the statement was particularly strange at the moment. She had always been their baby girl.
Of course, it did help that she was their first one. Her death had been very hard on everyone. She was a very young woman still and no one had ever predicted she would die so soon. It was all because of a car crash, a horrible event that lived in their memories as a scar that won’t go away. She had been the only victim of that accident, which made everything feel even more unfair and horrible that it already was. She had been pronounced dead right on the spot, before anyone could see her.
We decided, or rather, my parents decided they wanted to have a small funeral for her. They did not want a huge amount of people to be there only to gossip and to cry like crazy when they had never really liked her or known her as they had known her. So we had a very private ceremony, a really silent one. I wanted to ask her about it but it felt wrong not to enjoy her presence instead of asking things that didn’t made a difference anymore. I decided to put the teapot on the stove.
My parents sat down with her on the couch. They touched her hair and her hands and fondled her face. They didn’t talk much and the only thing they said was that she was beautiful and smart and the best daughter they could ever have. Her face was very white and her expressions were a little bit… dead. It was as if her attitude reminded them that she was actually dead and she was only there for a while. But they didn’t care because it was an opportunity they never knew they had.
They talked about the past while drinking tea. She had some and loved it, it was the only authentic expression of joy she showed. They spent a long while in silence and then my mother realized she could do something for her right there. She decided to cook my sister her favorite meal, so both of them stood up and almost ran to the kitchen. In minutes, they were pots on the fire and chopped vegetables, as well as meat cuts waiting to be put on very hot pans. It was a beautiful sight, one of warmth and happiness, never minding the storm outside.
My father was very silent the whole time and he just looked at them while they cooked. Tears went down his face every so often, in complete silence. He was obviously beside himself to have his daughter for a while. But I knew he was asking himself the same questions I was asking: for how long was she going to stay? And, what will happen when she leaves? Remembering her visit would be a privilege but it honestly didn’t seem to be something mortals would be allowed to have.
Some time later, I helped them serve and we had a very tasty lunch at the dining table, as we used to when we were younger. As back then, we laughed and told different stories. We also ate all of the food, which was delicious and made me realized I wasn’t dreaming or at least it didn’t seem like it. We didn’t turn on the lights for lunch and it was clear my sister didn’t care for light at all, as the sight of thunder outside made her appearance much less beautiful that minutes before.
We continued talking, remembering the past, even after we finished the food. Mom served coffee and cookies, the ones my sister used to love. She drank it all and ate several cookies. My mother was absolutely happy and it was clear she didn’t want the day to end. It was clear none of us had veer wanted something like this to happen, but now that it had we didn’t want this beautiful dream to end. We wanted my sister, their daughter, back from where she was, forever.
But that wasn’t possible. A few hours later, my sister asked to go to her room. My parents hadn’t changed anything there, going to the extent of closing the room since her death and never opening it again. Apparently, she wanted to have a nap, feeling exceedingly tired. We all looked at each other, knowing that it was probably the sign that indicated she had to leave very soon. We all helped her into bed and sat besides her, my mother even singing a lullaby from our childhood.
My sister fell fast asleep in seconds. For some reason, we all started crying in silence, as we realized that her body had disappeared in the glimpse of an eye. She wasn’t there anymore, we couldn’t feel her anymore and it was horribly devastating.
It was in that moment, when I felt that pain in my heart, when I woke up from that dream. The first thing I felt, beside my heart in pain, was a single tear running down my face and landing on my pillow. I almost couldn’t breath, as I had seen her one more time.