"Jill, it's not your fault. It would have happened no matter who was here."
"But Aunt Laura, I should have seen her." I sobbed uncontrollably as the fireworks rang out, and that scream still pierced my heart. As we sat there waiting to hear news from the hospital, the accident kept replaying over and over and over in my head ...
"Nathaniel Jacobi, get down from the window sill. Your mother will be home before the fireworks start." He obeyed me, unlike most two-year-old boys left with a baby-sitter they hardly knew. My Aunt Charlee and Uncle Greg had left me in charge of their kids, Anne, Cristina and Nic. They had gone out to dinner with their friends, so I watched their children, too. Nathaniel sat down in the family room of my Aunt Charlee's vacation condo in Sun Valley to continue building his Lego city with my cousin, Anne. The two older Jacobi children were glued to the television, engrossed in the TBS Superman marathon, which was a relief because they were a handful. My sister Kate, ten at the time, was helping me out by keeping Nic, our very active seven-year-old cousin, under control with a card game. So, I was left changing Cristina's diaper and preparing her dinner. As I entered the kitchen to clean the dishes I heard the faintest cry. I turned around and looked into the next room.
"Jill, um, Anne is falling," Nathaniel calmly informed me. I could only see her feet as she lunged out of the second floor window of our condo. I wanted desperately to catch her, to stop the wave of panic I felt, but I couldn't. I ran down the stairs to the sidewalk below the window and stopped when I saw the blood that had poured from her face. I knelt down beside her. Her chest wasn't rising and falling as it would normally - she wasn't breathing - and all I could do was pray that she wasn't dead. I could hardly think straight. God, please, please, please give me the strength to do what is right. Oh, how I hoped He could hear my silent cry.
A wave of control surprisingly overcame my emotions. "Anne, open your eyes. Please talk to me," I pleaded with her as I gently touched her back, afraid I was hurting her more. She turned her head the slightest bit and just barely whimpered, but it was enough to relieve me. Blood covered her face. I couldn't even make out the sparkling firecracker that the clown had painted on her face earlier that day. She looked so tiny. Her arms and legs were limp and she was so quiet. This was not the four-year-old Anne I knew. She's bright, humorous, and so adorable. But right then she was hurting, and all I wanted to do was hug her, and tell her that everything was okay. I wish someone was here to reassure me. God, is Anne okay?
I looked up at the other kids standing at the bottom of the stairwell, who looked back at me with terrified expressions.
"Kate, call Aunt Laura's condo, that's where the adults are now!" I demanded. And she did just that, but instead of using the phone she started screaming Laura's name as if she would hear her and come running. I was angry at her for being ten years old and too young to be of any help, and even at myself for being twelve, not too much older than Kate. But, once again I took the responsibility and called Lewis and Laura, my other aunt and uncle, for help. I wanted to dial 911 so someone would tell me what to do, like those very helpful dispatchers on the TV show. But I didn't know the address of our condo, a place I had never been before and after this incident, I never wanted to go again.
My Aunt Charlee and Aunt Laura ran up the sidewalk to Anne. As soon as Charlee caught a glimpse of Anne - her little girl - and the blood she lay in, she screamed. I guess it was more of a loud cry, but either way I had never seen an adult display so much emotion, and when I heard her, I broke down. Finally someone embraced me, and I cried.
For the remainder of the night I cried, I prayed, and I cried some more. Uncle Lewis kept saying, "Anne is going to be just fine. She's a strong kid." But inside I was thinking, She'll be fine despite the fact she has to be transported by Mercy Flight to Salt Lake City where the doctors will begin the surgery to reconstruct her skull. Yeah, I'm sure she'll be fine.
Well, she was fine. And after a few months of replaying that night in my thoughts and even my dreams, I was fine, too. I remember my mom asking me if anything good came out of this event, and, until recently, I thought that was impossible. But I realized the "good" was my faith. It is a big part of my life, my personality, and the morals I live by. Faith is something I have always had, but it was never a piece of my heart. If it weren't for Anne's fall, my faith wouldn't be as strong as it is. God proved to me that He takes care of us. He is always there with us, always. He was my soulmate then, and will be forever.
The most ironic part of this story is the following summer when I was thirteen, my Aunt Charlee, Uncle Greg, Kate, my cousins and I went back to the Sun Valley Resort. But this time we stayed in a one-floor condominium. It was one of the best vacations of my life because the time we spent together was so great, especially because no one got hurt. It definitely made up for the previous summer. c
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.