This is a story of a young girls journey of grief and healing. In a second her and her family’s lives were changed. Her story can help families and kids understand they are not alone. Please read it below.
Peace and love.
Riding home, watching as snow covered trees pass, suddenly there was a pit in my stomach. Like something was being disconnected. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I was having a good day; I went to the mall with Taylor and Tammy, Taylor and I were planning on playing Guitar Hero at home while our parents were at Studebakers for the drag show. Most of all, my dad was coming home after snowmobiling in Stillwater for the weekend. What could be better, right?
Sitting in Hailey’s room waiting to go back to my house, I heard Tammy’s cell phone ring. ” Hey what do you want? I’m trying to get ready!”… “What?”… “Slow down te…..” Then the door going outside shut and I couldn’t hear her anymore. After a few minutes, I heard the door open and close. Taylor and I immediately ran into the kitchen and begged to go to my house. Tammy’s demeanor had changed. She was suddenly in what I describe as “cop mode”, talking to her friend, Lisa. “You two are staying here tonight” she said. Confused and upset we protested. After texting my mom about five times, asking why we couldn’t go home, I received a text back: “Because I said so. Tammy will take care of you. I love you more than you know.” Suddenly the pit in my stomach grew bigger; something happened and it wasn’t good. I asked Tammy to bring me home to get clothes and things I needed for the night. When we got there, Taylor came in with me. We got to the outside garage door and just stopped. We looked at each other and I said, “Something’s wrong, and I want to know what the f*** it is right now.”
I was too lazy to clean my room earlier that day, so my clothes were thrown everywhere. It took me about ten minutes to get all my stuff together. When I was finally finished we walked down the hallway to the door going into the garage. I reached to turn the knob, but someone beat me to it: Aunt Terri. “What is she doing here? She’s supposed to be at Studes. Is she crying?” I thought. “What’s going on?” I finally managed to get out. “Sweetie leave your bag here, come into the garage,” she said in a soft voice. Following orders, I dropped my pink Nike duffle bag by the wall and stepped into the garage. That’s when I saw something that has been running through my mind for four and a half years now.
Standing there, cradled by a sad looking Aunt Phil was my sobbing mother. The grey shadows of our dark garage casting over the sulking face of a woman who I’ve never seen cry. Uncle Phil walks into the garage. His eyes were red and puffy. He had been crying. I looked around. Not sure what I was looking for. I saw a truck drive down the driveway. Tammy. “What are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be here” I heard a voice say. I don’t know who said it. I was too focused on this woman who looked like my mother, but I didn’t recognize the behavior. Shaking I asked again, “What’s going on?” After a few seconds of silence I looked at her. “Mom?” I asked. She sobbed even more before choking out, “Sweetie daddy got into an accident.” Then there was uncontrollable sobs.
I scream. A blood curtailing scream.
I felt arms around me, but I didn’t want them there. I threw my elbows, running into the house. I heard “It’ll be okay, you’ll get through this” right before I slammed the door shut. I ran down the hallway, then the stairs. Eventually ending up in the closet, his side, with his football jersey wrapped around me.
“This isn’t happening. This isn’t real,” I kept saying to myself. I heard footsteps and a knock at the door. In walked my mom, shaking and said, “I’m so sorry honey, I love you so much. I wish I could take the hurt away.” Sliding down sitting next to me, she took my hand. “We’ll get through this. It’ll be okay I promise. He loved you very much. And he still does.” Then she got up and left me alone. And, I realized I was surrounded by the clothes he would never wear again. I suddenly couldn’t breathe. All I could think was, ” I should have called him. Why didn’t I call him? I was supposed to be with him. I was supposed to go on that trip. I could have prevented this. It can’t be him. It’s got to be someone else.” Then, I just wanted to be with my friends. I ran through their room, up the stairs. The house was full. There was people everywhere. Then I saw Taylor at the end of the hall. We stood on top of dozens of shoes, hugging and crying. More people were coming into the house. My phone was ringing nonstop. Then I thought about Mack. I wanted to tell her before she heard from someone else. I realized there was no good way to tell someone this. So, I took out my phone, went to her name and typed ” my dad’s dead.” My Uncle Dave pulled me aside, gave me a hug and said, ” Turn your phone off. You don’t need it.” But I kept hoping to see the name “Dad” come across the screen, telling me he was coming home, and he was just running a little late as usual. But I looked around, seeing pale crying faces; I knew that call was never coming.
I finally heard Kayla’s voice; I forgot she was working. “Who told her?” I immediately thought. I went into the hallway. I saw her standing there, wrapped in Drew’s arms. Eyes red and puffy, tears streaming down her face. When she saw me she froze. She couldn’t look at me and she ran into her room and slammed her door. Drew walked over to me, gave me a hug and said “I’m so sorry Neen. I love you sister.” Then went back to find Kayla. After sitting with Taylor in my room for about an hour, my phone rang. Mackenzy was calling and said she was coming over. Actually, that I had no say because she was already in my driveway. Walking into the hall, there had to be about fifty people in my house. Everyone was crying. Giving me sad eyes. I finally found Mack and we just sat there hugging and crying. Both Taylor and Mack stood by me while every person in the house hugged me, not letting me walk away. Telling me how close they were with my father. People who I’ve never even seen before. Then I saw my mom. Sitting at the table, face blank. People all around her talking to her, but she wasn’t listening. Her mind was somewhere else.
I walked back to my room where I sat with Taylor, Mackenzy, and my cousin, Jake for hours. They kept my mind off of everything that was going on. But, I couldn’t shake the thought that the next and last time I would see my dad, he would be lying in a casket. Every time someone in my family walked by my open bedroom door I would ask: “Is there any possibility it’s not him?” But they all just stared at me teary-eyed. Not knowing what to say, they’d all just reply, “I don’t know” and walk away.
The last memory I have of that night was sitting on my sister’s bed listening to her say “I love you so much. It’ll be okay. We’ve got to be strong now. For everyone. For Mom. For Dad.” She was facing the opposite way. Even when she spoke to me she couldn’t look at me. If she did, she’d cry. It was too difficult for her to look at me. I could see her hands. They were shaking. So I just kissed her on the cheek knowing Drew would take care of her. I felt so empty that I just wanted to be around as many people I could. So, we decided to stay in Kayla’s room. After trying to find my mom to say goodnight and see how she was doing, I realized she couldn’t take seeing all the people who were close with my dad. So, she went to bed. I just walked around the house. People were sprawled everywhere. On the couch, the floor, the rocking chairs, even the hallway. That’s when it really hit me. My dad was never coming home. I broke down, feeling sorry for myself. Then realized I couldn’t do that. I had to be strong. If people saw me cry, it’d make it worse for them. I couldn’t cry. Exhausted, I laid on the floor next to Taylor and Mack, along with about ten other people. Holding the picture of my dad and I when I was a baby, I tried to go to sleep. Knowing tomorrow would be worse; I was still relieved that the day February 21st, 2009 was finally ending.
Experiencing the death of a man, only 42 with so much left to do in life, really opened my eyes. Life is too short to waste it and any day could be your last. Losing my father has been the single most difficult obstacle I have had to overcome. Although it still hurts every day, from this, it showed me that I can get through anything. Also, to never feel sorry for myself, because no matter how hard I think I have it, there is always someone out there who is dealing with something much worse.
– by Kristina for English class, September 2013