I walked into the room nervous as ever. Most people didn’t know the whole story of why I was waiting in my bedroom pacing back and forth with the door closed and locked shut. As I opened the door to walk down stairs and see my brother for the first time in 2 years everything rushed backed to me. I remembered the day my whole life turned upside down.
It all started when my parents found out they had to go to Australia for a month for my dad’s job. Me and my older brother, Ben were going to stay with our grandparents. We had been planning this for months. The time finally came for them to leave. We all said our goodbyes and went on our way, little did I know this would be the last time I would see my parents. We walked back into our house and continued with our lives. This wasn’t a big deal since I was only eight and my parents always had to go on long trips, none were as long as this one though.
Every couple of nights we would call our parents, it was never the same as them actually being there though. Weeks had passed and each day I noticed their absence less and less. I was getting used to my life without them. It was the last week my parents were gone, when I remembered my mom’s big ol’ bear hugs every morning and always playing in the backyard with my dad. All the feelings rushed back, and oh how I missed them so much now. The days began to get longer and longer each day, just anticipating them coming home.
The day had finally come for my parents to come home. Their arrival time was 3:00, so at 2:15 we all jumped in the car and drove to the airport. As soon as the clock hit 3:10, I was ready to jump into my mom and Dad’s arms, but we just stood there waiting, watching other families come and go, but we were still waiting in the same spot. After thinking the flight got delayed, Ben and I finally went and asked an airport worker that knew about the flights. The name tag on the woman’s shirt read “Josie”.
“The plane should be landing soon,” she explained, only partially paying attention to us as she was rustling with papers. The two of us went back to the gate and sat down again. Ben tried to call both our dad Trey, and mom, Laurie, but neither one answered. It was 8:00 and I was getting tired and began to lose hope, no one had answers, so we decided to go home.
I was woken up early the next morning when the phone rang. I picked it up to hear the voice of a women who sounded faintly familiar. As soon as I heard the worry in the woman’s voice, I asked what was wrong. The woman quickly got to the point, “Hi, this is Josie, we talked briefly yesterday at the airport, are you Aly Johnson?”
“Yeah that’s me” I quickly responded
“Is there an adult around?”
“My grandma and grandpa are here with me, but they are still sleeping. Are my parents home now?” I responded in a hopeful voice. The lady told me the news straight forward.
“Sweetie, you need to sit down,”
I walked over to the couch. “Okay, I’m sitting down…”
“your parents plane had crashed just a few minutes after they took off, no one can find them. We don’t know where they are.”
I was in complete shock, I never thought this could actually happen, and of all people, why did it have to be my parents?
I ran upstairs and woke up Ben. He was the first person who needed to know. I walked in and instantly began to cry. As I wiped away the tears rolling down my face, Ben woke up.
“What’s wrong, Aly?”
“Mom and dad,” I answered, “they are gone”
Ben sat up and patted a spot for me to sit on his bed, “Well, of course they are, but they will be back soon.”
Tears began pouring down my cheeks again.
“Aly, trust me they will be home soon, I promise. They probably just missed their flight and will be back later today.”
The tears began coming faster and faster. Ben leaned over and hugged me, still not understanding why I was so upset. “Um…” I started as I wiped my eyes “that lady from the airport, Josie, she called, Mom and Dad’s plane crashed... they can’t find anyone who was on the plane”
We just sat there in complete silence, but it wasn’t awkward. It was the type of silence that occurs when you are in complete shock and there is absolutely nothing to say. I looked at my brave big brother (who made it seem like nothing could bring him down) and saw a single tear make its way down his cheek and drop to the floor.
Two hours had passed, everyone was awake now.
“Good morning kids!” Grandma said in excitement.
“Are you ready to see your parents today?!”
We said nothing. When everyone was around the table, Ben and I looked at each other and knew it was time to tell them.
“Grandma, Grandpa,” I said looking from one to the other
“Josie, from the airport, called this morning to tell us Mom and Dad’s plane crashed, they haven’t been found yet.”
Grandma dropped her coffee cup, “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, maybe they have the wrong plane,” Grandpa concluded, sounding slightly hopeful.
“No,” Ben added, “We’re sure.”
We sat there silently again, but this time for only a short period of time. We began talking about all our memories with them. The tears began to dry, and smiles began to come back slowly.
“Remember that time we were all on the dock and Ben pushed Dad in the water!” My sympathetic voice came back “but he didn’t care because when he looked up at all of us, we were all laughing. All he ever wanted was for us to smile through life, the good times and the bad” We talked about the memories for what felt like days. Almost as if we discussed every moment we spent with our parents.
Our life went on the way it had for the past month, but it could only be this way for so long. Grandma and Grandpa were old and couldn’t take care of us forever. Eventually Grandpa went into a retirement home and Grandma went with him. We were taken to the authorities where we hoped for someone to adopt us into their family, but no one wanted an eight-year-old or a twelve-year-old. So, we were put in and out of foster homes, we didn’t have anyone to call family anymore. As Ben got older, we were separated. No one would house the both of us, so we went our separate ways.
I thought about Ben every day, and about how different my life would have been if mom and dad were still here. My memories of him began to fade, he became a distant memory, almost like a fantasy. It began to feel as though this were a whole new life, and I missed how it used to be.
Just 3 weeks ago, my foster parents were contacted by the news station RBC, the same news station that reported on the plane crash. It had been 2 years and they were going to have a follow up segment on my life. They found out about how me and Ben were separated and tracked him down.
The newscasters came and set up in the living room an hour before our segment was supposed to air. I just waited in my room, thinking about what to say when I first saw Ben again. When I first found out I was going to see Ben again, I couldn’t wait, but the closer the time came, the more nervous I got. “What if he changed?” I thought to myself. “What if he doesn’t want to remember me?”
I continued walking down the stairs. As I stepped into the living room, I saw a tall brown haired boy turn around, it was Ben! He got up and began running towards me. Ben wrapped me up in a great big hug. We sat down on the couch and looked at each other. We sat there in complete silence, just as we did the day we found out about the plane crash. But this time we were elated, yet there were no words. The reporters stepped back and let us sit there in our silence. Just as I looked up from my twiddling hands, standing in front of me were my mom and dad! I began to cry but this time they were tears of joy.
We had been standing in the middle of the family room just hugging each other for almost half an hour. I finally got up the courage to ask where they had been the last two years of my life.
“Sweetie,” Mom started “Your Father and I love you and Ben both so much. This was never our plan for our family. But just after the plane had taken off the Pilate began to lose control. The plane crashed on a small vacant island. Helicopters had looked for the plane for about a week, but after not finding anyone their search ended.”
“There was plenty of food and water and we built ourselves a shelter.” Dad continued, “There were about 20 of us who had made that island our home. When we finally contacted the US it had been about three months. Because so many of us had bad injuries and were not doing well, we were taken straight back to the hospital in Australia because it was much closer.”
As dad began to clam up mom began talking again, “They didn’t want to announce the fact that we had been found just in case something drastic happened. It took over a year and a half to fully recover and come back home, and now, well, here we are.”
“Mom?” I said
I looked up at her as my arms were still wrapped around her. “I missed you.”