Losing Chesney

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Just one more step and she could save him. She would take his huge hand in her tiny one and they would escape this pain together. She would be thought of as a hero, but she did not care. All she wanted was him to stay alive long enough for her to tell him; he was her favorite, she admired him, but most of all to whisper that she loved him.

The lights blurred together above her, one bright mess of color. Pain surged through her head, her limbs lay limp. Quickly Alison pulled her head out of the water, her breaths came in short forced gasps, she’d fallen asleep in the bathtub again. Her brain had momentarily slid back into the all to familiar dream. As she gasped for air the tears started to fall down her checks, her light brown hair dripping with water clung to her equally wet shoulders. Silently she sobbed. It had been over a year since the news of her cousins unexpected death had shattered Alison’s world, leaving her asking why and how.

She had told everyone she was ok, smiled and put on a big girl face, but the reality was she was haunted by the possibilities of what really happened. The news had been brief, there had been an accident, he had stopped to help and never left. The state patrol had found him early the next morning, dead. Alison had known the moment the phone rang that something was not right. She did not have to listen to her father’s sleepy grunts into the phone to know it was family related. When her mother called her into her room, even though it was barely four o’clock in the morning, Alison had started to shake and hot tears streaked down her face before she had even made her way out of her bed and down the hall to her parents room.

“Honey, there was an accident, I don’t know all the details, but Chesney, well…he didn’t make it. Chesney is dead, honey.” Her mother’s voice sounded small and far away as she spoke the most painful words Alison had ever heard.

Alison tried to focus on the present. She couldn’t control the shaking that raked through her body, therefore she decided it best to get out of the tub and dry off. As she wrapped herself in a large fuzzy towel Alison thought back to her therapists words.
“When the panic starts to build try to find things that relax you, things that you enjoy and find soothing”. That’s the reason she was in the bathtub in the first place, she had needed to calm down after her horrifying incident at the mall earlier that morning.

Always leaving her Christmas shopping till the very last minute, she had taken a much needed break from studying and headed to the mall to buy a worth while present for her older sister. While lingering in an isle of home appliances she’d heard a sound her ears would never forget. It had started quietly and grew vigorously. Joy had momentarily paralyzed her, she knew that sound, she’d know it anywhere. Without any thought to her actions Alison dropped the coffee maker she’d been inspecting and ran toward the laughter that lingered just a few isles away. Knowing she was getting close, Alison looked up to see the number hanging above the isle. Isle 13. She believed very strongly in signs and with 13 being her lucky number, Alison took this as a sign that something great was about to happen. As she rounded the corner of the isle she was immediately stopped, not by a shopping cart or another last minute shopper but by the disbelieve that rippled through her body.

There he was, tall, very tall, well over 6 feet. Dark messy, curly hair that hung loosely around his ears. He was just as thin as she remembered, and his slightly crazy mismatched outfit seemed to scream Chesney. There he stood with a little girl of maybe four or five, his big hands three times the size of hers held on tightly to hers as they played with toys in the isle.

“What do you think of this one Carly? Would Drake like this one? Or maybe this one?” A soft voice rang from the stranger.

“No, I think you’re right, Drake would like this one best. And Carly, we can get this one for us as long as you don’t tell Grandma! It’ll be our little secret!” Again the softly spoken sentence was followed by the laughter Alison would always remember.

Before she knew what she was doing Alison had found herself walking down the isle. Suddenly she felt the desperate urge to touch him, to make sure he was real. Shaking horribly she held out her hand and lightly touched his messy brown curls.

“Chesney, Chesney!” She had screamed, when suddenly, the tall stranger and little girl turned to face her. Horror struck Alison as she realized the mistake she’d made. Of course this wasn’t Chesney! He’d been dead for fourteen months! What was she thinking?! Surely she was crazy!

“I’m I’m I’m sorry…I thought…thought….you look just like someone”. Alison choked. Embarrassment crept up her neck and onto her face.

“Hey lady, its okay I understand. Actually, I get that a lot. No biggie”. The stranger replied, as Alison turned and fled from the store. After that the rest of the afternoon had gone a bit blurry. She remembered getting on the bus, but that’s all she could remember until she had awaken in the bathtub.

People said it would get better that Alison would heal, she would never forget her big cousin Chesney, but she wouldn’t have these nightmares and live in constant sadness forever. However, Alison wasn’t so sure. It didn’t feel like it was getting any better, she still dreamt about him nightly and her mind seemed to play a constant video tape of the last time she’d seen him. Words couldn’t express the way she felt. They’d never been all that close. He was almost a full 8 years older, and lived over 3 hours away, but there was something about Chesney that had made her admire him every since she was little. He never blew her off at family gatherings saying she was to little to play or he was to old to play kid games with her. Instead he had been the one to search her out and find her, asking if she wanted to play bean bags, or go for a swim, maybe even shoot some hoops.

Alison’s heart broke as she thought about it. She knew why she’d been pulled towards her cousin Chesney. It wasn’t because he was the funniest in the family, nor because he told the best stories, but because he’d made mistakes. He’d shown Alison he wasn’t perfect, that he too messed up, but unlike her he didn’t wallow in his mistakes. No he took life by the ropes and tried his best to make up for them. He learned from his mistakes and when he occasionally got knocked down he got back up and tried a different way. The one thing, above all others that Alison loved about Chesney, was his ability to love unconditionally. He didn’t care if you didn’t want to love him back, if you were scared, or just plain stubborn. Nothing you could do would hurt him enough to make him not love you anymore. He just plain loved everyone, even strangers he hardly knew, and had only just met.

Alison shook the thoughts from her head. She needed to concentrate. She had just one final test left before she could head home for the holidays. Her grades desperately relied on her doing her best on this test, today. She dressed quickly and as hard as it was she opened her World History book and began to read for what felt like the millionth time, “ The Gupta dynasty was initially one…”no matter how many times she read it the words never seemed to register. Finally after what seemed like hours, Alison threw the book down. She couldn’t study anymore. She either knew it, or she didn’t. Last minute cramming wasn’t going to help her now!

Quickly she gathered her coat and mittens and headed toward the door of her apartment. Outside the door she was greeted by a cold winters blast. Keeping her eyes down Alison trudged across campus toward the large brick building where her final was held. She tried desperately to think of what the each of the five dynasties were famous for, however instead her mind lingered on thoughts of Chesney. Where was he now? Surely he was in heaven with Grandpa and Grandma? Probably eating a fabulous meal Grandma prepared, or helping Grandpa with the tractor. Alison smiled at the thought of tractors in heaven. She wasn’t sure if they were really there, but she liked to think that heaven had tractors. Quietly Alison slipped into the brick building and instantly felt the warmth it gave off. A sign reading “World History 152 Final Room 143”, loomed in front of her and with a slight sigh Alison trudged down the hallway to the over packed room. Suddenly stricken with fear that she could no longer remember the dynasties names, much less what they were famous for Alison took a seat and bowed her head. Silently she prayed. In her pray she asked for God to look over everyone in the room as they took there final test and prepared for the voyage home. “Let them all travel safely” she begged, and “have a good holiday with lots of friends and family”. Then like always she sent up a quick message to Chesney, “if you’re any good at history I sure could use you right now Chesney”!

With the test behind her, Alison walk briskly out of the old brick building. She ambled up to her apartment and rechecked her bags. Pajamas, church clothes, glasses, presents, looked like everything was there. After looking over the apartment to make sure nothing was left plugged in Alison headed for the door. Just as she pulled the door open she remembered, “toothbrush! I always forget my tooth brush”! Doubling back to get her toothbrush Alison again pulled open the door and headed to her car. After securing her bag in the back seat, she silently touched the sticker on her car window. Rest In Peace Dear Chesney, the sticker read.

Climbing into the driver’s seat, Alison checked her gas, placed the radio on her favorite station, and buckled her seat belt. Checking to make sure the coast was clear Alison carefully backed out of the parking lot and on to the road. Settling back into her car seat Alison thought of the long drive ahead of her. She hated the drive but it would all be worth it once she saw her family, and friends. The holiday spirit always brought out the best in everyone. She loved the smiles, the hugs, and the overflowing love. Mentally she checked her gift list, everyone had been accounted for and she had even found a lovely decoration to place on Chesney’s grave.

Miles seemed to fly by and Alison found herself staring out the car windows marveling at the beauty of the snow covered country side. It would beautiful out here, yet she doubted many people saw it, after all the houses were few and far in between. The road wasn’t any big highway just a little country road that only the locals knew about, and Alison had found on complete accident. It was a short cut home, one she didn’t usually take for fear of bad weather and of not being all to familiar with the road. However, for some reason this road had felt like the right choice when she had left just over two hours ago.

Suddenly up ahead Alison saw the cars, a green one on the right and to her left, a badly damaged white one. As she slammed on her brakes she searched the sense for victims, but saw no one. Her heart beating at outrageous speeds, Alison ripped off her seatbelt and was almost out of the car before it was even in park. The green car on the right seemed to be not as bad and as Alison drew closer she saw the driver talking on her cell phone. The driver, seeing Alison, got out of the car and told her the story of how the white car had come over the hill a little to fast and before her eyes had crossed over the centerline, coming directly at her. There was nothing she could do, there was no way of stopping her car fast enough, she knew they would hit, and had tried her best to swerve and miss the car but there just wasn’t time. The frightened driver continued to fill Alison in on her recount of the crash and informed her that she had called 911 and the would be on there way soon, when Alison heard a frightened cry.

“HELP ME”!


As if she’d done it a million times, Alison dodged past the green car towards the white one laying in shambles. She stepped over the mess she recognized would have once been a child’s care seat and there she saw the other women. Her face was white and scared with pain. “MY SON,” she cried, “get my son.” It was then that she saw him, laying beneath the car and a blue county sign that read, “County Road 13”, a small boy no older than 4. Without thought Alison hurtled the mess of the car and reached for the boy, all the while thinking, “ just one more step and she could save him. She would take his little hand in her big one and they would escape this pain together. She would be thought of as a hero, but she did not care. All she wanted was him to stay alive long enough for her to tell him; he was someone’s favorite, he was admired, but most of all to whisper that someone loved him”.

Unlike every time she’d dreamt it, this time Alison reached the boy. Gathering him in her arms she held him tight against her and felt his body rise and fall with every scared breath he took. This time she’d done it, she’d saved him. Looking down into the young boy’s eyes, Alison dropped to her knees on the side of County Road 13 and prayed. “Thank you for giving me the power to help these people today Lord”. Suddenly a siren ripped through her prayers and before her eyes EMTs were scattered everywhere.

Shaking Alison took the small boy she cradled in her arms over to the open ambulance. Handing him over to the tall, very tall, well over 6 foot EMT, Alison stared starry eyed at the man that so clearly resembled Chesney.

“Hey lady, I think I’ve seen you before. Maybe you just look like someone else. No wait! You’re the lady from the mall! Well whoever you are, God sure put you in the right place at the right time”! The EMT squeaked, then he laughed the laugh Alison would never forget.

As Alison got back in her car to leave she realized she hadn’t help the victims of the crash half as much as they’d helped her. She knew from that moment on she’d never live in constant sadness, or allow the nightmares to take control of her life, instead she’d do just as Chesney had done when he lost his life. She’d help when she could and above all, she’d love unconditionally.





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