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Helpless This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     "There's someone dead in theback!"

Those words will forever resound in my ears. People alwaystalk about how you never know when your time will come, but I never seriouslyconsidered that possibility.

I attended a small Catholic school for thefirst nine years of my education and everyone knew everything about everyone. Wealso knew our teachers pretty well, especially the librarian with the crazy,curly hair, Mrs. Hammer - Mom to me. She was never without a pen, paper and book,her hair pushed back in a headband and a ready smile. I never knew any studentafraid to ask her for help or any adult who did not respect her.

At theend of every day I would go to the gym to wait for the bus and talk with myfriends. If Mom had been working in the library that day, she would come to thegym and ask if I wanted a ride. I was talking to my best friend one day inseventh grade when Mom came to ask if I wanted to go Christmas dress shopping. Iwas excited - what better way to spend a December afternoon than shopping withMom? We were off.

One favorite activity with Mom's family always wasbargain shopping: thrift stores, garage sales, heck, even garbage picking isacceptable. Our family motto could be, "If it's in one piece, it's good forsomething." I was playing True Colors with some friends recently and onequestion was, "Who is most likely to buy an item just to say she saved fivedollars?" All hands immediately pointed to me. I guess it's in my blood. Sothat day, Mom and I headed to Goodwill. She was always better at finding the goodstuff, but I was learning. That day she found a great dress for five dollars thatfit perfectly.

While paying, Mom talked with the cashier. I'm still amazedby the stories I hear about how she could make anyone feel special just bytalking with him or her. This was one of those times. We left the cashiersmiling. Pulling out of the parking lot, Mom asked if I wanted to go to Barnes& Noble. Could there possibly be another book she needed? I refused herproposal. "I just want to go home. I'm tired," I replied.

But Ididn't get home for two days, and when I did, Mom wasn't there.

We didn'tnotice a big gas truck swerve across two lanes before hitting us head-on. I neverasked the details of the accident. They seemed unimportant compared to theresults. I've always felt that if I'm supposed to know something, God would finda way to tell me.

I blacked out, and, in what seemed like an instant,awoke screaming. I was told I hit my head on the dashboard, fracturing my skull,which luckily didn't cause serious damage. The windshield had shattered all overme; the paramedics found registration stickers in my hair. Because of the glassin my eyes, I couldn't open them, so I never saw what was happening. I've neverhad a dream about the accident.

I cried out to Mom, but got no answer. Idon't remember what I thought, but I did feel very lonely. Then I yelled forhelp. Yelling for help when you're totally helpless is strange. Your whole beingdepends on someone else hearing you and having the courage to come to your aid.If that person never comes, you're pretty much finished. I was a scared littlegirl in a lot of pain who couldn't see.

It didn't take long for help toarrive, since the accident happened near a fire hall. I heard someone approachthe car, which is when I heard, "There's someone dead in theback!"

The back of what? I wondered. Not our car. Mom is next to me.What's going on?

My questions would have to wait. Another man came to myside of the car.

"Someone's alive in here!" he yelled. I heardrustling. People were struggling to open the door. When they did, the man askedme to wiggle my legs. I did, but only because I was shaking so hard."Whoa!" the man said. "Not so much."

They pulled meout carefully after asking where I hurt. I replied, "My face and leftarm." The entire time they moved me, I was crying in pain, "My arm!You're hurting my left arm!" They put me on a stretcher. A lady said theywould take me to the hospital in a helicopter. I wasn't paying attention, sincepeople were cutting off my clothes. How cold those scissors felt on my skin! Myjacket I had just gotten was ruined. They put a blanket over me, so I felt alittle better. When they moved me into the helicopter, I saw a blue light throughmy closed eyes. I've told people that, but no one knows what it was.

I wasswitched to an ambulance at some point. A lady asked me a lot of questions Ididn't feel like answering, but I did. Another nurse tried to get me to open myeyes. I didn't like her very much. I would have gladly opened them if I could,but the glass stung.

We eventually made it to the hospital. What happenedthere is very vague. There was a lot of movement. I remember my friend's dadtalking to me. I didn't know why he was there. I had never talked to himbefore.

My left humerus was broken. I didn't help the doctors when theytried to set it. They told me to hold myself up while they pulled on my arm.Yeah, right. I was extremely tired, so when they pulled down, I went right withthem. Then two nurses attended to me. I liked them. They asked what they could dofor me. I explained about my eyes and they rinsed them out. That felt reallygood. I could see the big white room for the first time. One nurse put a bedpanunder me and asked me to go "potty." I smiled at her. She laughed,saying, "You can tell I work with a lot of little kids,right?"

My family walked in - Dad, Greg, Peter and Andy. No one wassmiling. Dad knelt next to my stretcher and asked how I was. My brothers juststared at me. I looked up into the light above me, where I could barely see myreflection. I could see why they stared. I had cuts all over my face and a bruiseon my forehead. "I'm okay," I said.

I could tell somethingwasn't being said. Dad was having a hard time. "Meta," he struggled."Mom didn't make it."

"I know," I answered,remembering what the man had said at the accident. I had known, but I wouldn'tadmit it to myself. Dad was trying really hard to keep himself together. Mybrothers and I were numb to emotion at that point. I didn't cry until the nextnight.

I had to stay in the hospital for two nights because of my headinjury. When I got home, I found cards from all my classmates. I still have everyone of them.

The next three days were anything but happy. After two wakesand a packed funeral, Mom was laid to rest. December 6, the day of the funeral,was my brother's eleventh birthday. His birthday has never been the same. I worethe dress Mom and I bought just three days before to the funeral and again onChristmas.

The stories I've heard about my Mom's life and the fondness andtremendous respect people have for her make me want to live like her. Since shecan no longer read or write on this earth, or make people feel special just bytalking to them, I will.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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