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Jenna

How am I doing this? I am dressed in a crisp, black and white tuxedo, barely holding up the umbrella keeping the rain from pounding my person. Many people are crowded around me. Most are glaring, like it was my entire fault, some just staring, with that hurt look in their eyes, the kind where you don’t know what to say or do to fix the pain. My wife stands faithfully at my side. Gleaming tears stream down her pained face. As the ceremony continues, and comes closer to an end, her grip on the arm tightens. Like a boa constrictor about to engulf his prey. We stand as one, but in the bottom of my heart I know she blames me. We are at our daughter’s funeral.

It was a week ago today, that the accident happened. My daughter had always been involved in sports. She was a very outgoing person, athletic, friends with everyone. It was spring-time, flowers were blooming and the air was warming. Track season had started. Every day, routinely, I would leave my house at 4:30 p.m. to arrive at the school by 5:00 p.m. to pick her up after practice. Today was different. It started out like any other day; I woke up, showered, went to work, and was home by 3:00 p.m. sometime after I had arrived it began to storm. I hadn’t noticed until I got a call on my cell phone. It was Jenna; practice had been cut short due to the arrival of the storm. Knowing that she would be waiting, I hurriedly put on my raincoat, grabbed my keys and jumped in the car.

She hadn’t been waiting too long, and luckily they had opened the school so the athletes didn’t have to stand in the rain. She jumped in the car, and was in a great mood, “No track today!” she said anxiously. As we pulled away from the school, she turned the music up and started to dance around to one of her favorite songs. Not paying much attention, though I should’ve been, I was speeding.

My car suddenly began to hydroplane. Caught off guard, I over corrected myself. We were headed toward oncoming traffic; I yanked the wheel the opposite way, now towards a telephone pole. The whole time, Jenna is screaming frantically. Those screams haunt me, still to this day. We smacked the telephone pole, head on. I lived, and she died, instantly. It was my own fault. I always wear my seatbelt, and usually stress to Jenna how important it is, in the end she puts it on with a huff. Today was an exception. She had hopped into the car in such a great mood; I didn’t want to ruin that for her. Why? Why! Couldn’t I have just been her father and looked out for her? Instead of trying to be her friend, I just wanted to stay on her good side? Either way, that day I made that fateful decision, and it is a decision that will follow me for the rest of my life.

It has not stopped raining since that day. I don’t know if it ever will, but for now this is what I have to life with, the looks and the whispers. As if my own personal grief and regret isn’t enough. The hardest part is watching my wife walk around lifelessly, as if it were her who was gone. Why couldn’t it had been me? That is the one question I will ask for the rest of my life.





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