The Shock of Grief

May 22, 2008
By April Kreider, Columbia, PA

The Shock of Grief

I watch my sister’s movement and posture as she walks through the door, her silence and composure reflecting her rough day. Observing her face, I see the smeared mascara and the tear-lined cheeks, and as I look into her deep brown eyes, that usually hold a cheerful sparkle, I now see loneliness and heartache. I feel her pain and wish I could take her burden from her. If only I could bring her boyfriend back to her.

Two weeks ago, my family was caring on conversations after a Sunday lunch at home and my three sisters and I were seated in our living room. Kirsten, my older sister, began to receive a call on her cell phone. She glanced at her phone and an irritated and almost disgusted look crossed her face as she mumbled, “It’s Josh.” He had not accompanied her to church that morning or responded to any messages, which left her upset and frustrated. She reluctantly answered the call and her tone quickly changed to alert, with her full attention. While watching her expressions closely, trying to figure out what was being said, a shadow of shock covered her face. She gave a blank stare and her hand covered her mouth as she began to tremble. “I’ll be right there,” she replied. Kirsten, now shaking uncontrollably, hung up and the red cell phone dropped to the floor.
“Kirsten what’s wrong?” we all asked simultaneously.
“Josh was in a car accident. Josh is dead,” she sobbed.
Her words sent a shock right through me as I jumped to my feet to hold my sister. Falling into my arms, her body felt lifeless and heavy. My mom grabbed the car keys saying she would drive Kirsten to Josh’s apartment.

Just like that they were gone. I sat on our couch in a daze while I watched them drive away. Feeling stunned and confused, I wondered if this could really be happening. No one knew what to say and no one really wanted to talk, leaving our house quiet and cold. My body got hot and my eyes began to burn as I felt the tears and emotion building up, and then all at once, it poured out. There was no stopping it, and my younger sister clutched me as we held each other and cried. My heart stung and I could only imagine how Kirsten must be feeling.

A little after they arrived back home I went to Kirsten’s room to see how she was doing and I could hear her weeping before I reached her room. She lay upon her bed wrapped in a white bathrobe Josh had given her for Christmas. Piles of tissues were on the floor and a picture of them together lay beside her. I knelt beside her bed in silence and began to gently massage her feet while searching for the right words to say, knowing perfectly well, that nothing I would say could make her pain disappear.

“Can I help in any way Kirsten?” I asked.

A few minutes later she said, “April, I never understood when people said that they couldn’t breathe without someone, but now when I think about him, I literally can’t breathe.” My heart sank and I felt a big lump forming in my throat. I began to ask God why this had to happen to her. Life just seemed to be coming together and in one moment everything came crashing down. Tears began to stream down my cheek and I looked at my sister as she lay on the bed and shook. I stood up and began to walk towards her when a stack of pictures caught my attention. The top one, a picture from Christmas, was of Josh smiling and holding my older sister’s dog. His big dimples and smile shown bright and the picture became fuzzy as my eyes filled with tears. Everyone loved Josh’s smile and it seemed like his signature. When people talked about Josh his captivating smile had to be mentioned. The next picture was of Kirsten, Josh and I sitting on the couch opening presents. All of us were smiling and laughing, everything in that moment seemed perfect.

The bed creaked and I turned to look at Kirsten as she lay there helplessly. Being there for her to talk to seemed the only thing I could do and as I sat on the edge of her bed she turned her from the pillow as she said, “I wish I would have known that this was going to happen. He was so young and had his whole life ahead of him. Why did this have to happen?” We embraced each other and cried because there was nothing else left to do.

Now being two weeks later, life seems harder than before. Trying to continue on with life when you’re constantly reminded of someone lost feels impossible. Going to school and work while trying to act normal is a struggle, but yet when I am alone is the hardest part because that is when I begin to think of Josh and his family. The image of Josh’s only brother Jeremy flashes through my mind and how alone and empty he must feel. My heart aches for his parents because they had to bury their son; parents are not supposed to bear that kind of pain. Looking now at Kirsten I see her frail, exhausted body, but I also see a strength within her. She gets out of bed every morning no matter how great the pain is, and she has a sense of determination not to give up. I only hope that I can have half of her character and courage.

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This article has 5 comments.

on Aug. 22 2008 at 6:51 pm
April that was very well done. I know how hard this hit you and you can tell by the emotion in this piece. You write better than I do.

smile maker said...
on Aug. 21 2008 at 7:46 pm
His smile WAS his signature.Big heart/big smile:)

jim r. said...
on Aug. 18 2008 at 11:03 pm
many tears. expressively written. feelings from the heart. awesome revelation. thankyou for this powerful illumination.

GoneHuntin said...
on Aug. 17 2008 at 3:49 am

Very well written, I feel like I was there experiencing it. It touched me deeply.

ajn127 said...
on Aug. 16 2008 at 10:01 pm
Oh my April! This is so good, I cried! I really enjoyed it. You are such a great writer, I had no idea you were this good! After I read it, and after I was done crying. I was like, "Wow, I wish I could write like that" :)

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