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Jackie

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I was in a car crash. My husband died, and I didn’t. This is my story.

Jake and Jason were playing in the lawn, grandpa was outside grilling the steaks for the kids and meme was inside fixing up a salad and some macaroni. It had been a normal day. I woke up the kids and got them ready for school. Johnny made us all pancakes for breakfast since they were his specialty. I got myself ready for work after they started eating breakfast. Nothing spectacular for today, just a white blouse and a pinstriped black skirt and some black heels. The skirt was Johnny’s favorite. For some oddball reason he loved it when I wore that skirt. I slicked on some lipgloss and mascara, my wedding ring, my lucky sparrow necklace and I was finished. I walked back into the kitchen where the boys were just finishing up and I said “okay, go brush your teeth and get in the car, or we are going to be late” the boys ran down the hall and to the bathroom, where they proceeded to fight over who had to brush their teeth first. Since jake was the oldest he got to go first.

Johnny came and gave me a hug and a kiss goodbye. When he did he said “Hmm...you know I love that skirt on you.” And I just smiled. Johnny was the most wonderful man on the face of this earth. He was a hard worker, and an amazing dad and husband. I couldn’t have asked for anything more than the life we had been given together. “I was thinking…” he said “that we could go out tonight. You know? Just you and me since it’s our 18th anniversary. We could go to that really nice restaurant in the city that you like so much. What do you say?” “I say that I would love to, but there is the little matter of who will watch the kids” I said, even though I already knew the answer to that problem was his parents. His parents, the Rockettes are what most people know them as, lived just down the next street. They spoiled Jake and Jason as much as humanly possible and I knew that the kids would be all fired up when we got home that night.

“Don’t worry I’ll take care of it. I’ll get my parents to watch them tonight.” He smiled. He knew I already knew he was going to get them to watch the kids, but we both loved to play those games with each other like we did when we were teenagers. We’d been together for 18 years, 4 were before we were married and they all had been wonderful. We have had our ups and downs like any other couple, but unlike most, we worked out all of our problems. Most of those problems were after our first son, Jake, was born. Those problems mostly came from the stress and the lack of sleep but when Jason came along we knew more of what to expect, and we handled the sleeplessness more easily than we did the first time.

I grinned and said “okay, hunny, I’ll see you tonight.” I gave him a hug and a kiss and took the kids to school. Jake went to Dohenny Middle school, he was in the 7th grade and his favorite thing to do was play catch with his dad and younger brother at the park that was 2 streets over. Jason went to Dohenny elementary school where he had just started kindergarten. Jason’s favorite thing to do was bake brownies with me. (But that was only because I let him have the bowl when we were done.) Since their schools were side-by-side I dropped them both off at the elementary school and left for work. I worked for the publishing company, called Dontar, in the city. Miami was about 16 miles from where we lived and I had to take the freeway to work every morning which I hated. I never liked the freeway; I guess I know why now. I walked into the 4 story building, set my things behind my desk, and went to sign in. Alan, my boss and the owner of Dontar publishing, was sitting at the table with the sign-in sheet. Alan isn’t like the normal stuck-up, rich bosses that always run companies. He only had those qualities when he was negotiating business matters, but when he wasn’t doing that he had a very laid back caring attitude. He was the type of boss who knew everything about his employees, the kind that loved what he did and took the time to get to know people. So it was no surprise to me when I took the sheet from him to sign in that he said “I’m giving you the afternoon off, starting at 4:00.” I smiled and asked “now why would you do that?” “You know exactly why, Jackie,” he said with smile. “It’s your anniversary, and I will not have you in the office working while you could be going out to dinner with your husband.” I smiled and said “thanks, Alan”. That’s how we are at Dontar, we’re like one big family. I know I could go to Alan for anything, if the need ever occurred. He was like the big brother I always wished I had had. I was an only child, and adopted on top of that, so growing up was always kind of awkward, and lonely. That’s why I had always said I would never have less than 2 kids.

I had finished up with work and got home around 4:45. I saw that Jake and Jason were playing catch in the yard, grandpa was outside grilling the steaks for the kids and meme was inside fixing up a salad and some macaroni. I gave meme a hug and thanked her for taking the kids. After that I went to go freshen up and change. I put on a little bit of eye liner, and another slick of lip gloss. I had never liked lipstick; it always felt weird on my lips, so I never wore anything other than lip gloss. I found my favorite black dress, the one with the heart shaped neckline, and my red clutch. I transferred my cell phone, my wallet, and a few other essentials to the clutch. By then Johnny had gotten out of the shower and walked into out master bedroom. He smelled really good, like always, a fresh minty smell that always had just a slight hint of wood from where he had been working. Johnny owned a small construction company, mostly they built houses and once they had built a set of apartments. After they had finished that he said that he didn’t want to build apartments anymore; that they were too much of a hassle. He smiled when he saw me. “Hey there, beautiful.” He said. “How was your day?” I grinned and said “it was really great; Alan let me off at 4:00, so that we could go out to dinner earlier.” He beamed “that’s great; I’ll have to thank him for that. Now we can get there and eat before all of the rich people get there.” He was almost finished getting ready, the only thing left was his tie. That was always my job because he could never remember how to tie it. I slipped on my dress and walked over to the closet and picked out my favorite one. It had the beach on it, with the waves rolling and crashing on the shore. There were so many colors, and shades of blue, white, and tan. We had gone to the Bahamas for our honeymoon and while we were out in the town we had run into this little tie shop. I spotted this one in the back hanging off the corner of a mirror and I knew he had to have it. I hold up the fatter side of the tie, smile and say “the fox chases the bunny around the tree twice, then down into the fox’s den” “I know” he says “but you tie them better than I do, mine always come out crooked.” He grabbed the car keys and my clutch off the bed then he took my hand and led me out to the car. On our way out, we said goodbye to his parents and gave the kids a hug and a kiss goodbye. We got in the car and he headed towards the freeway. I turned on the radio station and starting flicking through the channels, I listened to a couple of rock songs, some ‘oldies but goodies’ and while I was flipping through the channels I came across johnny’s favorite song. He said “whoa, leave it there, leave it there.” It was a new country song by joe Nichols, called give me that girl. He laughed to himself and began to sing along with the song “ give me that girl with her hair in a mess, sleepy little smile with her head on my chest, that’s the you that I like best, give me that girl…” he had a deeper voice when he sang and it never ceased to amaze me at how beautiful his voice sounded. It was so relaxing and peaceful that he would often sing to me before I fell asleep at night. I looked at him then I said “I love you.” And he smile my favorite crooked smile and said “ I love you to, hunny.” That’s when I heard the brakes of another car scream, we looked ahead and Johnny slammed on the brakes and swerved to the left. We slammed into the black car beside of us. The force of the impact flipped us over the windshield of the car, and I could hear the glass shatter and the metal on the cars screeching against each other. i couldn’t see, everything was a blurr until we finally stopped flipping. I was hanging upside down in my seat. All I could feel was pain, an agonizing pain that came form my right leg and flooded throughout my body. I looked over to where Johnny was supposed to be sitting. He wasn’t there. I braced my self against the top of the car and unbuckled my seat belt. I fell into a heap on the ceiling of the car. There was glass and shards of metal everywhere but at that point my body was so full of adrenaline I couldn’t really feel the pain anymore. All I could think about was finding Johnny. I crawled out of the car on my belly. When I tried to stand I fell back down onto the unforgiving asphalt. While I was trying to push myself back up I looked at the ground underneath me and realized it was cover with blood and all of the sudden I could smell and taste it. The irony-metallic smell burned my nose and filled my mouth. By now I could hear the sirens screaming. It sounded as if it was right in my ear, but I knew that the adrenaline from the crash had heighted my senses. My body was still reeling from the shock of the crash but I grabbed the side of the car and hoisted my self up and looked around for Johnny. I found him. About 30 feet away; soaked with blood and not moving, his arms and legs were tangled and twisted, I got about half way to him before I blacked out.


“ I woke up in a hospital bed a week later” I said to the reporter. “ the doctors said I had two concussions, my spine had been fractured and my right leg was broken, along with over a hundred cuts and gashes that came from the flying glass and metal shards. They told me that it was a miracle that I even lived. But when I asked where Johnny was the doctor hung his head and said that he didn’t make it. I later found out through police reports that a man had stepped out in the freeway, trying to commit suicide. The really screwed up part is that the man didn’t even get hurt. I was told that when we hit the car that was beside of us we were going around 75 miles an hour. I was told that we had flipped 7 times. And that on the 5th time Johnny’s seatbelt broke and he was thrown out of the window. he only live for a few seconds after that. ” My voice sounded broken and hollow. By now the tears were streaming down my face and neck, my nose was running and my eyes were rimmed red. “The pain of losing Johnny is something I can barely handle.” I said quietly. “Each day I wake up to nothing but the cold sheets and pillows beside me. each day I wake up with an empty, hollowness in my chest; like someone had drilled a whole through where my heart is supposed to be. The only love I have left is for my sons, and to be honest I don’t think I would even have that if it weren’t for the medication.” She, the reporter, was on the verge of tears, but that was ok with me because for the most part I was used to the tears. I knew my story was sad and painful, but she didn’t know my pain, she could only imagine it. she leaned in closer, and I could tell now that she wasn’t just here as a reporter, she was here as a human being. I could see the concern, it was written all over her face. “what kind of medication?” she asked. “lithium” I whispered. She looked slightly taken aback. “Lithium?” she asked “ but I thought they only proscribed that kind of medication in suicidal cases?” “ they do, and my case is a one. If it weren’t for my sons I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. I won’t leave my sons parentless, I love them and I won’t let them be orphans. I would rather be numb and hollow for the rest of my life, then let them go through the things I had to go through when I was an orphan.” She didn’t ask me any more questions. We both sat in silence. I knew she was thinking about her life and all the things she took for granted, while I was sitting there thinking about the last moments I had spent with Johnny. Listening to him sing his favorite song, and hearing him say I love you to, hunny.


It had been two years since the accident, and all I had left of Johnny was my favorite tie and his wedding ring, which I wear around my neck and I never take it off. Jake had started 9th grade and he was on the track team. He won first place at state in the long distance running, but I knew the reason why he ran. He ran from the hurt and the pain, sometimes I could see his desperation when I went to his track meets, but I knew I was the only one who could see it. all anyone else could see was his speed and determination. Jason started 2nd grade, and occasionally he would ask me where his daddy was. I never knew what to say, so usually I would pretend that I didn’t hear him. Pulling myself out of my thoughts I looked over at the reporter. She was dabbing at her eyes with a tissue. I asked politely “do you have enough information to write your story?” “what? Ohhh. Yes, yes I have enough.” She said. “well then,” I said “ I will be heading back to work now.” I picked up my purse and my jacket and walked out the door.





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