adriana suriano
3 min readFeb 4, 2023

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This is the not the first time my hair soaked up the smell of death. When Liz overdosed and died i went into her apartment to salvage anything for her 19-year-old son. She spent the $8k she saved for his college semester in 2 months over the summer. When i walked in Liz’s apartment i walked over needles and empty dime bags. i thought about what her son might want. i found photos of Liz and her son when he was young. Her journals of poems and short stories. Liz’s papers as she was pursuing her degree in social work. The smell of death was faint. It had been about 1 week and i remembered to wear my hair in a bun. The way my nonna taught me. Wrap your hair real tight so everyone can see your beautiful face my nonna lovingly told me. Liz’s daughter was about to turn 18 in a few weeks and the adoption papers were going to be unsealed. Olivia she was so close to seeing you again. Never doubt that she adored you. I found some photos of you and your mom with your beautiful long straight hair. i thought maybe her son would want the photos so i took them. No one ever claimed your body Liz. It was over $2k to have your body cremated. No one would pay it. So your body stayed at the morgue unclaimed. That broke me Liz. That your beautiful soul was unclaimed. I could not even fully attend your memorial. I stood in the doorway and cried.

when my husband’s best friend died in his apartment, i would smell death again. not just in my hair but in my shoes. in my underwear. in my skin. my husband and i took all of our clothes off as soon as we got into our condo. it was 30 degrees outside, and we walked in barefoot. all of our clothes including our coats went in a trash bag. i washed my hair several times with different shampoos. i could not get rid of that smell of blood and shit. i sat in the bathtub with the shower drenching me.

“adriana, get your shit together. this is bill’s best friend. stop worrying about what you saw. what you smelled. what you cleaned up and threw away in a trash bag. be there for bill. patrick didn't even like you. i am so hungry. what should i order through door dash? maybe pho? i dont think i should eat anything in case i throw up. i need to order wine. 2 bottles as i know i will need a drink tomorrow night too. yes. that pinot grigio from the close by liquor store. they know my order. they always drop in a free snack like doritoes or bbq chips. what do i wear? i am so hot. i feel like if i overdress after i get out of the shower i will pass out. i had to sit when we were at patrick’s apartment building. i felt the world slowly and dizzly hit me. i hear bill’s shower ending. okay. adriana. you will be okay, adriana. you will be okay, adriana. like you are always okay.”

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adriana suriano

i am a first generation italian-american who grew up in southern new jersey. Life is amazingly beautiful and devastating. Sometimes in the same day.