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It comes to seem like everything you least expect in life always happens. I never expected my wife to die at such a young age by something that could have been prevented. The world is such a chaotic place and can never be made perfect. The more you try to perfect it the worse it seems to get, at least that’s what I think. My name is Ed Walker and this is my story.
I had the perfect life, well almost perfect. I married my beautiful wife Elizabeth Walker when I was twenty years old, Elizabeth was twenty- one. We met in Oxford, North Carolina at our high school. When I first laid eyes on her I knew right away that I would marry her. Two years out of high school that is what I did. I wasn’t able to give her the wedding of her dreams but we made do with the city park and the minister of a near by church. We didn’t care much for a big ceremony we just wanted to be together.
After being married to my lovely Elizabeth for three years a new chapter of our lives started. We always talked about having a family of our own and on December 15, 1997 we had our first child who we named Layla Walker. She was beautiful. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and big rosy cheeks that you were always tempted to squeeze. She was like the perfect baby.
Now that I had a family it made me realize how indecent we were living. My young daughter and her beautiful mother were living in a one bedroom apartment that had little living space and was a hazard towards small children. I began to feel guilty about not being able to provide a decent environment for my family. For one long year I worked overtime and an extra job to build up enough money to by my family a house that would supply all of their needs. After all of my hard work I was able to purchase a house on the country side of Oxford. The house wasn’t very big but it was decent. It had three bedrooms, a dining room, a nice kitchen, and a living area. I spent most of my hard earned money on the large lot of land that the house sat upon. I wanted my daughter to be able to enjoy nature to the fullest like I did when I was younger.
For three years I enjoyed being the husband of a hard working wife and the father of one lovely daughter, then on May 9, 2001 I had my first son Jaden Walker. When I held my son for the first time I immediately began to wonder if I would be a good enough father for him. This made me think about my childhood and how it affected me to this day. My father was never there for me. He was a severe alcoholic and he could be very dangerous when he came home drunk after work. My mother tried to protect me from my father when he was enraged and often fell into the path of his uncontrolled anger.
Soon my mother became tired of the constant beatings and arguments about money and me so she packed up our bags and we left. My mother was a waitress at a local diner and was unable to afford one of the cheapest apartments, so we stayed in a shelter when there was a vacant room, when there wasn’t we slept in the backseat of her car. I always hated to see my mother struggle. Often times I thought that it was my fault that she did. When I became of working age I got a job in a grocery store as a bag boy. Every month I gave half of my small pay check to my mother. I know that it didn’t help much but it made me feel better knowing that I was at least trying to help. When I graduated from high school I didn’t go to college, although I wanted to go. When I was younger I dreamed of running into fiery buildings and looking out of a big glass window of my executive office. But I didn’t have the grades or the money. So after college I struggled to get and keep a steady job and personally I didn’t want that for my son. That first time I held my son in my arms I said a silent prayer asking God to make sure that he didn’t turn out like his old man.
“Ed, I need to get a job. That little money you are making is not enough” said Elizabeth.
“The first time you asked to get a job I told you no. I know my pay is very little, but it will do.”
After Jaden was born every penny of my paycheck was spent before we even got it. I tried to ignore the fact that Elizabeth was right, but I knew that if we were going to live a comfortable life Elizabeth would need to work.
“The children need new clothes and shoes, we haven’t had milk and eggs, and we’ve eaten the same thing for dinner all week. Please, I’m begging of you, let me get a job to lessen the burden on your shoulders. I won’t do anything real hard. I’ll try to get a job at the grocery store or the bank.”
Because I was the head of the house I felt that I should provide for my life, but I knew that I needed help. I looked into Elizabeth’s eyes and saw how much she wanted to help and I made my decision, she could work. Elizabeth thanked and hugged me when I told her that she could work.
“I will not let you down” she told me. I believed her.
Soon after Elizabeth started her search for a job she found one at a bank where she would work as teller. Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. she would work and make a decent amount of money. With Elizabeth working the family could live comfortably. The children always had nice clothes and food was always available. I was very proud of my wife and how fully she had committed herself to being a good wife and a mother.
8 years later
At age thirty- five silvery hairs began to show on my head. Where did time go I asked myself? Just the other day it seemed like me and Elizabeth was just getting married but here I am celebrating Layla’s twelfth birthday. We didn’t have much money to spend on a party for her so me and Jaden blew balloons to decorate the house while Elizabeth backed a cake.
Layla has matured in such a short period of time. She cares for her brother when I and her mother are away, and makes sure that he is fed, bathed, and put to bed. Even though she carries a heavy load on her shoulders she still manages to do her school work and get all A’s. Me and her mother are proud of her and know that she will become something great when she gets older. Unlike many children her age Layla didn’t ask for anything for her birthday. I know that she didn’t ask because she thought we wouldn’t be able to afford it but I talked with her mother and decided that we would get her a drawing portfolio. Layla wanted to become an artist so I guessed that this would help that process. It wasn’t much but it was something.
“Dad where is Layla” asked Jaden his speech slightly slurred.
Jaden was born with autism that caused him to have slurred speech. He needs a speech therapist but we haven’t the money to get him one. He’s also excellent in math and science but lacks in reading and writing. Sometimes when he gets frustrated or can’t explain himself he may throw violent temper tantrums, so keeping him happy is a high priority.
“Layla is out with some friends write now but she will be back soon.”
“Oh, can I have cake then?” Jaden asked.
“No Jaden, wait until you sister gets home, then you can have cake.”
“But I want cake now” Jaden whined.
Jaden was starting to get bored and I needed something to occupy his time until Layla was home to eat cake.
“How about you go outside and draw me a picture of what you see.”
Jaden ran off to get his coat then went outside. Jaden has always been fond of the outdoors. Even when he was a baby he would lay in the grass all day. I was very proud of my son and how he was managing to be somewhat normal in everyday society. There have been some occasions when somebody called him slow or retarded and he became defensive, but it was never anything really serious.
Then there was a knock on the door and I knew that it was Layla. When I opened the door Jaden ran through it screaming,” it’s time for cake”. I lead the two into the kitchen where Elizabeth was waiting with the cake that she made. The cake looked great. It was a chocolate cake, Layla’s favorite, with pink icing, Layla’s favorite color.
After singing happy birthday I looked at my wife and noticed that she looked sick. Her skin was pale and I noticed that she had dropped a lot of weight. She had also recognized that she had been feeling fatigue. Was something wrong with my wife, or was it just me? I wanted to talk to her but I was enjoying myself. It had been a while since my family had gathered together and had such a good time and I wasn’t about to crush it. After our cake I gave Layla her present and she loved it. Before we could even clean the table after our party she had drawn a picture of what her birthday cake use to look like in the first page of the book.
Later that evening me and Elizabeth tucked both of our children into their beds and said good night. Then we went to our own room and talked for hours about how much our children had grown up and what we thought would become of them. After falling into a peaceful sleep I began to dream about my family. I and Elizabeth were old and gray holding our grandchildren on our laps. Layla and Jaden had grown up to be an artist and a doctor and I was proud. I was proud that my children had done something with their life. Although no one in my dream was talking, I began to hear a moaning sound. It was a horrible sound. It sounded as if someone was in pain. Slowly my beautiful dream was turning into a nightmare and I woke up. It took me eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness but I soon realized that it was Elizabeth that was moaning. Her body was sweating horribly. I reached over to touch her face to find that she was very warm. I need to get her to the hospital was my first thought. I jumped out of bed and grabbed the phone off of my nightstand an dialed 9-1-1
“This is 9-1-1 what is your emergency?” asked the operator.
“My wife is really hot and unresponsive. I don’t know what’s going on please help.”
“Okay sir, I know that you are scared but I need you to calm down. Is your wife breathing?”
“Yes, I think so. She keeps making this weird noise.”
“Alright, I have your location. An emergency vehicle should arrive very soon, so sit tight.”
“Okay, thank you.”
After knowing that an ambulance was coming for my wife I began to panic. What is wrong with my wife? What if my wife died? How would my kids react? All of this was running through my head at one time and I was becoming frustrated because I didn’t know the answer to any of the questions. Then I heard the sirens. To most people this sound would be horrific but in this situation it was a sort of relief. I ran to the front door to open it for the medics. They rushed through the door like a mighty wave carrying a stretcher and everything else possible. By this time the noise had waken up Jaden and Layla and they were standing beside me.
“Dad, what’s going on?” they both asked.
“You’re mother is sick or something. I don’t really know what’s wrong with her, but I’m sure that she will be okay. Go and put your shoes on. We’ll be riding in the ambulance to the hospital.”
I walked into my bedroom and found the paramedics hoisting my wife onto a stretcher. Her body looked so lifeless and helpless. I began to get this nauseous feeling in my stomach. What would I do if my wife died? I don’t think that I would be able to live without her but I had to stay strong until the end.
“Sir, we are ready to take your wife to the hospital and there is enough room to get your whole family into the ambulance. Once there we’ll get all of the papers sorted out. Are you ready to go?”
“Um…yeah were ready. My kids should be meeting me at the front door.”
“Okay then, let’s go.”
With one wave of his hand the whole room seemed to rush towards to door of the room like a running stream. Out the front door all of them went. They put my wife into the ambulance fist, then my kids who were waiting for me at the door got in, I was last. After what seemed like seconds of riding, we were once again running into another building with my wife on the stretcher. They pushed her passed the front desk and into some double doors and that’s where I had to stop, because I wasn’t allowed into the emergency room. I waited in the nice waiting room that they had set up. At that point I began to wonder why waiting rooms were made so nice when all they seem to do is prepare people for bad news.
“Dad, is mom going to be okay?”
It was my kids. I had forgotten about them. One of the nurses or paramedics must have brought them here.
“I really don’t know. All we can do is hope and pray.”
For hours it felt like we waited for an answer. I filled out so much paper work that my hands began to hurt. Doctors and families came and went. Some cried some smiled, but still no one came for us. I said several silent prayers hoping that my wife would be okay. The longer they took the more I felt like something had gone wrong. After my kids had fallen asleep a doctor came to me with an update.
“Are you Mr. Walker?” he said.
“Yes I am.”
“Hello, I’m Dr. Freeman. Me and my team did all we could do for your wife but I’m sorry to say that she has past on. She suffered fro…..”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, you did everything you could but she’s still dead?”
“Yes sir that is what I said. Your wife had a heart attack while she was asleep, it probably cam from having too much stress. Once again I’m very sorry for you loss.”
I collapsed into my seat. Why is this happening to me? Out of all the other people in the world this could have happened to but it had to happen to me. I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared to tell my kids about their mother’s death. I thought about not telling them and waiting till later but that didn’t make any sense. The best thing to do would be wake them up now and tell them. Softly, I began to shake Layla and Jaden awake.
“Guys get up; I have to tell you something about your mother.”
“Is she going to be okay?” asked Jaden.
“Yeah, is mom going to be okay?” asked Layla.
“Guys I’m sorry but your mother died. She had a heart attack. That means that when she was sleeping her heart stopped working. The doctor and his team did everything they could for her but it wasn’t enough.”
“So mom won’t be coming home?” asked Jaden.
“No Jaden, she won’t be coming home because she’s in heaven now. When you die you go to heaven. When you get older and die you will go to heaven too, then you will be able to see your mother.”
The kids began to cry. I felt so bad that this was a problem that I could not fix. I couldn’t bring their mother back from the dead. I had no super powers that could make the world a better place for everyone. I called a cab to take me and my family home. I would deal with funeral arrangements tomorrow. After getting home I sat on the couch and my kids cuddled into my arms where they cried themselves to sleep. The absence of my wife was so unbearable. Where will I go from here? My mind was spinning so I decided a cup of tea would do me good. The sun was beginning to rise and I watched it as my water boiled on my gas stove. When the tea pot began to blow its whistle I took it of the stove, poured some in a mug, then put my teabag into the cup, and went back to the couch. I had not noticed that I didn’t turn the gas of the stove all of the way off, but the warmth of the tea calmed my nerves and sent me into a much needed sleep. Then from the deepest hallows of death the silent killer lulled his prey into a permanent sleep.
From the balcony of heaven I watch as they presume my family dead by triple suicide. In the bible God says that he will never put more on us than we can bear, so no longer do we have to suffer. Together now is my family, living in a world where everything is perfect.