The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. ~Job 1:21b
In the year I turned 6, my life, as well as the lives of those in my family, was on quite a roller coaster ride. Ups and downs, twist and turns, it seemed endless.
At the beginning of the year I was blessed to become a big sister for the second time. My mom brought home the newest addition to our family, my sister Nicole, in February. I got to hold a new baby for the first time. It was exciting because though I had one other little sister, Carolyn had been born when I was still a toddling 16 month old, so as far as my memory stretched she had always been there, we were a pair- though the kind of pair was more like that of cats & dogs then loving sisters, but a pair none the less.
A few months later, the joy of having a new baby sister faded as within weeks of each other, I lost two very close family members. Honestly, it all blurred together and I don't remember which happened first. One was expected, the other quite sudden. My grandfather, at the end of his full and long life, slowly fading into memory, and my dear cousin, my best friend, only 19 days younger then I was, just barely beginning his life.
I remember my grandfather lying in the hospital bed we had set up in our dining room. I don't know if he was awake and could hear me, but I knew he was sick and dying. I would sit beside him and use the skills I was just learning in school to read him stories. I didn't fully understand what was happening, but I was very sad and I knew things wouldn't be the same as they were once. Finally one day I came home and he was just gone. The bed had been picked up and there was an empty space in the corner of our dining room, and in my heart. It was expected, but it was still sad to think I would never see him again, that his life on earth was now over. Of course life moved on despite his absence and I continued to find things to smile about.
Those smiles didn't last long though. I remember the phone call, the looks from my mom and grandmother as we got the tragic news. Both my Aunts, Lori and Lori, and my Uncle Mike had been planning some sort of road trip or vacation. We were never close with my Uncle Mike and his family, so we were not included in their outings. Apparently, the car they were loading up was parked across the street from their house. Some of the kids, my cousins, were in the car waiting as the adults hustled back and forth. My older cousin JJ was supposed to stay with Tony, but left to use the bathroom. Tony, my cousin and closest friend at that age, whom I frequently spent hours playing and pretending to get married to, was left in the car alone. I suppose being the typical 5 year old, he decided he didn't want to be left alone, and he stepped out into the street. The speculation I have heard over the time since the accident, is that he must have thought the car coming was slowing down for him. In fact, she was slowing as she talked with the others in her car and was looking at some of the homes they passed beside. She didn't even look ahead immediately as she began accelerating and changed the lives of many in mere seconds.
I never got to say goodbye. We got the call from my Aunt Lori at the hospital, he didn't make it. I remember selfishly asking the question, 'Did he say anything to me?'. I didn't know any better, I just wanted some form of farewell, even if I wasn't there to receive it myself. After learning he was unconscious until the end and wasn't able to give anyone any words, I collapsed into the nearest arms I could find. I don't know if it was my mom or my grandma, it didn't matter as I felt my world crumbling around me. She held me as I cried until the tears would come no more, curled up on our gray sectional sofa.
Eventually the world I once thought could be no more, rebuilt itself, just a little more frayed at the edges from the recent sorrows. Time moved forward, we moved into my grandma's house over that summer and I began 1st grade in the school I would call 'home' for the next 4 years, I made new friends, met wonderful teachers and had many new adventures. My grandfather and Tony were never far from my memory, but I still had my new baby sister, Nicole, to brighten my days. And someday I hope to see them both in heaven again.
This is the 3rd in a 15 week series I am doing to record my youth with other woman. Check it out at