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Loss, parts 1 and 2
PART 1, My Past
“C’mon! It won’t hurt you. You just jump and it bounces you back up into the air! It’s not like you fall on a rock or something. It’s easy!”
I was scared to jump. I was five years old and was being confronted with my first trampoline ever. My big brother was twelve and was encouraging me to try. To get out of my comfort zone. As a five year old, out of my comfort zone was out of the question, and my big brother was not exactly the most reliable source of comfort. The trampoline was bigger than me. I was little. I glanced over my shoulder at my house. My mom was smiling out of the kitchen window at us in the backyard, and she nodded at me. I turned back to the trampoline and took a deep breath. I climbed onto the red rubber lining of the border, my brother holding my hand. I looked at him and he smiled.
“Okay. I am gonna let go of your hand now, okay? Then you just step on and jump.” I nodded and let him let go of my hand. I imagined myself smoothly transitioning from solid ground to bouncy tarp, then jumping elegantly upward into the air. Really, not so much. I kind of fell down onto the trampoline, which proceeded to bounce me gently. But that one bounce addicted me to the thrill of jumping, and I stood up and jumped. My brother clapped and smiled and I saw my mom in the kitchen laughing at my un-smooth start, and I was just thrilled and in the zone. I loved the trampoline. I loved the feeling of flying. I was happy, and pleased that I had stepped out of my comfort zone for a moment and found something even better.
Chapter 2, Later in my life
“Edmond? Edmond, wake up. I need somebody to come to my track meet, and Mom and Daddy are already at work.” It was nine on a Saturday morning in May, and my team was having a make-up track meet. I didn’t really need a spectator, but I did need a driver. Plus, Edmond did love watching me run. Or anyone run, for that matter. But it was Saturday, so my nineteen year old brother was sleeping till noon or later. Waking him up was going to be hard.
“Goway. Notwake,” he slurred. I sighed and rolled him over on his back. I pulled on his eyelid so that it was open and he was looking at me.
“Edmond. You owe it to me. Remember?” I pouted and smiled at the same time at him, which is hard, by the way, and he groaned. He pulled himself into a sitting position and glared at me. “Fine. I’ll drive you. But if you have to wake me up before you leave, then that is your own fault. Geez, Gwen! Wipe that pathetic look off your face! I’m getting up!” I smile and ran off to pull on my uniform. I knew that I could count on him. I was going to miss him when Mom makes him move out and get a life.
Chapter 3, Even Later in my Life
It was midnight. I was still up, studying for my SATs. I was so tired, so wanted to sleep, but I wanted to do well. My sixteen-year-old mind stressed out about dumb things like that. So I flipped another page of my book and read some more. The clock slowly ticked away the minutes of the night. I glanced over at my phone, then at my book. I grabbed the phone and dialed. BRING! BRING! He picked up on the second ring.
“Gwen. You need to stop studying and get some sleep.” That was it. No “Hello” or “Hey, sis. What’s up?” Edmond was always blunt. Before I could say anything else, he said, “I did not study at all, and I passed. You are staying up all night, and you are gonna fail. Go to sleep. You’ll do fine.” I smiled into the phone. “Okay. Thanks, Edmond.” He laughed and hung up.
Incidentally, I passed that test with flying colors. I wouldn’t have done that without Edmond.
He was always there for me, up until my seventeenth birthday. Then my life fell apart.
PART 2, My Present
“Oh, thanks, Laura! I love it!” I laugh with my friends at my sarcastic comment. Laura is my best friend, but she is bad at French Braiding. She has just done one on my head. I look scary. My birthday slumber party is going great. Everyone is happy, hyper, and staying up all night. We are munching on candy and popcorn, and painting nails. “13 Going on 30” is playing on my TV in the background. I hear the phone ring downstairs, but think nothing of the fact that someone should call at 11 p.m. on a Saturday. I am having too much fun to care. We giggle at the Thriller scene in the movie. We play Truth or Dare. Suddenly, my mom bursts through the door wearing her bathrobe and a panicked look. She says, “Girls, call your parents. You have to go home now.” She turns to me. “Edmond’s in trouble.” I gasp and stand. I look at my worried friend’s faces, and say “Um. The phone is downstairs. Laura, you know where it is. Help everyone. I’m sorry. Call you tomorrow.” I yank on a sweatshirt and run out with my mom. We dash to the car and screech out of the garage, leaving to go somewhere scary, I know.
The night passes like a dream. His friends telling us what happened, the police, Mom crying the entire time. I am in a daze, not even really believing that this is real. I keep waiting for myself to wake up, and be able to have waffles with my friends. But as dawn draws closer, I do not wake up.
We go to the hospital.
The doctor looks so tired and sad. I know before he even tells us.
His friends said that it was a complete accident. Nobody’s fault, especially not his. Not anybody’s fault but the drought. They said it was just the after-party of Josh’s birthday. They had not drunk anything. They had been hot, and went swimming in the nearby quarry. The drought had dried it up some. He dove in like always. He did not come back up.
They say he hit his head.
It may have been a complete accident, but he still died.
This news doesn’t stop the pain in my heart.
The funeral is today, five days after Edmond died. I sit as the preacher talks about how swell Edmond’s life was, and how great a guy he was, and how tragic and unexpected it is when young people die. But when he starts talking about how close Edmond and I were, even in his adulthood, memories come back and I cry.
I have been crying for five days. My eyes are constantly red and I wonder why I haven’t shriveled up into a dry, empty husk. I want to be a dry, empty husk. Dry, empty husks don’t feel this much pain.
When they have that bit where the family can come and say goodbye to the corpse, I walk up slowly. I am scared of what I will see. Blood? Is he mangled? But I look in and no, it is my brother lying there. He looks almost alive, only he is not moving or breathing. I touch his hand and feel a dead skin that is not my brother. I turn to the preacher and say, “I don’t like the suit. Edmond would have wanted to be buried with his pajama pants and a t-shirt on.” Then I blow a kiss to my brother for the last time. The preacher says, “Do you have anything to put in the casket?” I remember that I do, and nod. I place his iPod in his hand and say softly to him, “I made a new playlist. You should listen to it. I think you’ll like it.” Then, as the tears start flowing again, I walk away so that my mom can say goodbye.
I think Edmond would have liked how I handled that.
School is terrible. People are either avoiding me altogether or they are giving me sympathy. I have a zillion business cards. “Here! Call my mom’s shrink.” or “Oh, Gwen, I’m so sorry. Here. This is a loss of family member support group.” or “You poor dear! Here’s my card, and I’m always here to listen if you need to talk.” or “Go see the guidance counselor. She is really great. You want her number?”
I plan to burn them all when I get home.
The worst part is Laura. She has been so nice to me; she waited at the front of the school today and hugged me, walked with me all day, and has eagerly beat up any guy who has rudely pressed for details. But even though she has been with me all day long, she’s been all distant. It’s like she is only being nice to me because she feels that she has to as my best friend, but she really would rather be anywhere else.
And she thinks I can’t see that.
I wonder if I can stay home for the rest of the school year.
He didn’t ever even get a chance to say goodbye to anybody. One second, he was laughing and joking with his buddies, and the next, he was gone, only a simple footnote in the essay of life. I wonder what his last thoughts were.
I wonder if he was having fun.