The Day She Left

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Laura woke me up in the morning with a big smile on her face, telling me it was time to go. Her long, thick, brown hair dangled from her head and hit me in the face as I struggled to get out of bed. “Mary….It’s time. You’ve got to get up now.” She shook me with a short laugh. She couldn’t help but have a big smile across her face.

At 4:30 a.m., I woke up with a sick feeling in my stomach like something was already missing. I had to get up, but I didn’t want to. I had been dreading this day for weeks. I pulled myself out of bed and looked across the room at my sister packing up the last bit of her things. She was as excited as she would be before a vacation.

“How should I arrange my pictures on the walls? And oh my gosh, I can’t wait to have all my friends come visit me. I can’t believe I’m going to be in college! Its going to be so much fun!” Laura’s eyes lit up. I was happy for her, but at the same time I was bitter about the situation. Listening to her talk about how excited she was, hurt my feelings. It felt like she wouldn’t even miss me, or our family.

The scent in the air was the scent of fresh coffee that my Dad had made for the drive there. I could smell the strong rain with the

windows closed. I walked into the living room to see the floor covered with bags and blankets for Laura to take to school.

The conversations of that morning all seemed to avoid to obvious. “Laura, do you have enough money for the week?” My Dad asked her, pulling out his wallet. That’s how I knew he was feeling sad. He never pulled out his wallet to give anyone money for the week.

“Thanks Dad. I can’t wait until you come visit me for family weekend in a couple of weeks!” The tone in her voice continued to get higher and higher as time went by. I sat there on the couch listening to everyone discuss who would carry what to the car, we were running low on time. I felt exhausted to the point where I wondered why I had woken up for such a sad day.

Once everything was all packed up, we got into the van and got ready to leave. As we slowly backed out of the driveway, I looked over at my sisters face, and she looked back with a soft smile on her face that I will never forget. She was moving out and would not be back. This was the end of her childhood. This was the end of high school, middle school, curfews, and living with me. She was now at the point where she needed to be tested on everything she had learned throughout her childhood. I looked into her eyes and smiled gently, trying to hold back my tears.

As we continued driving, even though the music on the radio wasn’t turned up very loud, it was blaring in my ears. I closed my eyes and tried to doze off. Even though I was that tired, I couldn’t fall asleep. The song “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” by Carrie Underwood came on the radio. Suddenly all conversations in the car died down. As the song played throughout the car, I could not help but cry, though I was trying as hard as I could to hold back my tears. I tried to hide myself from everyone in the car by hiding behind all the bags. My family believed I was asleep, but I was just listening to the music drowning in my own tears.

The conversation between Laura and my Dad started to pick up. I could hear the nerves in my Dads’ voice quiver while he spoke. He was never good at goodbyes. “You have to remember what we have taught you, and the right choices to make,” he was trying to avoid saying how he truly felt which was “Don’t screw up, and be careful.” He began telling her about things that may happen to her in college and that she needed to be aware of people who may try to hurt her or take advantage of her. Listening to his fatherly speech made me tear up a little more every minute.

“Going to college is a huge part of growing up. It’s a test of everything we’ve taught you over the years. What you choose to do with you life is up to you from here. I just hope you make the right decisions,” the mood of the car developed a serious tension when my dad spoke.

“I know Dad. Haven’t I made good decisions up ‘til now? I’ll never forget what you all have taught me over the last eighteen years.” A few small, glistening tears fell down from Laura’s green eyes. The thought of her moving on with her life began to sink in.

After three long hours of driving, we had arrived at the University of Iowa. We all spent a couple of long hours trying to fix up her new dorm room and unpack her things. Her room here looked nothing like our room at home. It was filled with many colors and an octopus-like, tall, bright pink lamp with at least 8 light bulbs and many bright colored rugs. On the walls were collages of pictures. Our room at home was more plain, with a couple pictures of our friends and celebrities on the walls. She was going to have a good four years in this room and was now someone else’s roommate instead of mine. As we got ready to say our goodbyes, everything seemed calm.

“Bye Laura. Take care, Kiddo I’ll see you soon,” my dad hugged her and said goodbye as if he would be seeing her tomorrow.

“Bye Dad. Thanks for everything!” She hugged my younger brother as if it was necessary rather than wanted and gave him a quick little goodbye. Then I was saved for last. I stared at the ground and I could not bring my eyes to meet hers. I was holding in with all the strength I had not to cry, but I couldn’t help it. I took one look at her and the tears fell down my face. I gave her a big hug that I tried to make as quick as possible, as if the pain would stop if I made it faster.

“I don’t know what to say, so I’m just going to say good luck, make good choices, I'll miss you and I love you,” I stuttered out through my tears. She smiled back at me while I spoke and without saying anything, I knew she was going to miss me as much as I would miss her.

I cried the whole drive home, trying as hard as I could to hold it in but it overpowered me. A sick feeling took over my stomach and I felt queasy. It was a feeling I had never felt before and a loss I had never gone through.

After an hour of driving, I dozed off and managed to get my mind off of my loss for a little while. When I got home, I walked directly upstairs and headed to my bedroom that Laura and I had shared for the last 17 years. As I walked into the empty room, I looked at Laura’s belongings scattered in all corners of our room. She still had pictures of herself and her friends on the walls on her side that she never took down. There was a lonely glass of water, half empty, sitting on her night stand. That glass of water would never be finished because she was no longer there to finish it. All of our childhood memories poured through my mind and all I could think about was how far away she was. I knew that it would take me a little while to adjust to my new life without my sister there for me everyday. She was not only my sister or my roommate, but also my best friend. She was someone I could talk to about anything and know that she would always be there and understand. I will never forget that significant day in my life when Laura went away to college and our lives changed forever.





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