Originally published in Finnish local newspaper Salon Seudun Sanomat on 13th of March 2010, written for a writing competition on their weekly youth page with the title “I Did It!”
It was a normal, grey and cold morning. It greeted me with drizzle and mist that spread over my home valley like an oppressive blanket. The landscape that I viewed from the bus stop resembled my state of mind.
I have suffered from depression for three years. Today my depression was at its peak as it was the anniversary of my sister’s death.
You see, exactly three years ago Jonna had gotten her driver’s license. She had gotten me from basketball practice and had been driving me home when a car had sped around the corner driving on the wrong side of the road. The driver had been drunk, my sister’s classmate. Jonna had tried to evade the approaching vehicle, but it had collided with her car head on.
My next memory was from the hospital. My gaze had immediately focused on my parents who had been standing at the end of my bed silent, worldless.
When I had been released from the hospital, I had sat in a wheelchair. As we had come home, my parents had taken me to the dining room table. They did this when they wanted to be serious. We usually ate at the bar stools by the kitchen island.
“Josifine”, my father had began. “Jonna didn’t survive the accident.”
I remember how I completely broke. Nobody knew how to heal the open wound in my heart. Not my friends who tried to comfort. Not my psychiatrist whom I met every Monday at 6 pm. I stopped playing basketball, my only goal in life.
In high school there were the normal exams, classes, teachers, students. It was the beginning of the beginning of spring during my first year in high school. Many had already found their place in the high school world, but not me. My own friends were attending different schools, and the teachers worried over me, as per usual.
On the anniversary of Jonna’s death I even contemplated suicide. My depression was the worst it had ever been. I nursed my grief in the school library, alone. I skipped all my classes, because normal life had driven me insane.
Midday I was approached by a girl who played in the school basketball team. She attended many of the same voluntary classes as I did.
“Hi”, she greeted and didn’t know how to continue.
“Hi”, I answered. “My name is Josifine.”
“My name’s Helena”, the girl responded nervously. “Your friend Francis is my cousin. She told me about you and how you used to love basketball.”
“And how’s Frances?” I asked nonchalantly.
“She’s good”, Helena answered. “Listen, would you like to come and play basketball on our team? Or at least try. It could be therapeutic or somethin.”
“Don’t know”, I said.
“You should come and watch”, the girl encouraged. “We have practice today.”
Then she left.
When school was over I was about to go home when something inside me compelled me to go watch the basketball team practice. For some reason, it felt like the prompt was from my sister.
I sat watching the talented players, but I realised that they’re game strategy was off. Again, Jonna pushed me to intervene. Before I knew it, I realised I was standing and gesturing for Helena to come to me. She did so with an energised smile on her face.
“You came!” she exclaimed happily.
“Yea, I did”, I answered and swept my hair from my face. “Listen, you’re playing all wrong.”
She listened to my explanation, and then called her teammates to us. They were impressed.
“Hey, join us”, one of the girls requested.
“I don’t know”, I said retreating back into my shell. “I don’t even have any gear.”
“I have extra”, Helena volunteered and lead me to the changing rooms.
I dressed and began playing. My grief disappeared in the moment of the play and I realised how much I had missed playing.
I had been voted team captain. We were playing against the toughest team in Finland in the finals for the championship. Our opponents had won the championship for the last couple of years.
We were neck in neck. Helena passed me the ball. The field under the opponent’s basket was oddly empty. We got a point right when the bell rang to signal the end of the game.
As Helena had expected, my depression had disappeared and my grief diminished slowly overtime.
Now, as I was lifted onto the shoulders of my teammates holding the prize, as always when I was playing, I felt the presence of my sister in the audience watching me with a smile.