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When I first entered the district, I was asked to be on an episode of Shabonees weakly broadcast. I accepted and went to attend a practice session. A fifth grader, who seemed to dwarf me in size, began the question-answer. I answered the questions as was my duty and I was asked things that ranged from any pets I had, to what color the ceiling of my room was. One of the questions I was asked was what the first thing I could remember was, and how old I was when the event occurred. It’s not like I was old or anything even close to it, but trying to remember that early in life is like trying to play the four seasons by Vivaldi on a cello, when you’re a violinist. You don’t practice long term memory often enough and racking my brain for an answer to the question seemed to take forever as I tried to recall some sort of image. I answered something simple, “The first time I went to Disney. And I was about three.” The answer satisfied the questioner but I felt like I was missing something.
I continued to rack my brain for the rest of the night. I went to bed unsatisfied and unsure. I drifted to sleep irritable but woke up horrified.
In some ways, I wish I never had remembered my past. Sometimes letting bygones be bygones is best. I dreamt that night of a delicious dinner at my favorite restaurant. It was a warm setting and everything was nice until an unsettling feeling began to overwhelm me. I turned to my brother to ask him if he sensed anything wrong and was shocked to find a baby boy with dead eyes sitting in his place. I jumped up with a start. I was sweating and my skin stuck to my t –shirt.
Then, I remembered.
I was sitting in the booth at Ron of Japan, our family’s hotspot. The restaurant was crowded and it was scorching but no one seems to notice. I was really little, about three years old. My whole family was there because we were celebrating my uncle Steven’s birthday. My uncle’s wife (now ex-wife) is handing out peanut butter cookies. My mom is next to me and my brother is on her lap. She accepts the cookie and takes a bite. My brother, a chubby toddler of about 1 and a half with cute sandy brown hair and silly brown eyes snatches the cookie from my mom and begins to chew at its contours. The festivities continue until my mom’s face becomes puzzled. She whispers something to my Grandma who rolls her eyes at whatever my mother had motioned. She said “Don’t worry about it. It’s only one hive he’ll be fine.” I didn’t totally comprehend what she was talking about but because I was allergic to just about everything I knew what a hive was. But I was little and as short as I was, my attention span was even shorter.
A little while later my mom goes to the bathroom with my brother to come back wide eyed and horrified. Her face chilled me to the very bone. She yelled at all the adults to get in the car because we had to go to the hospital. My brother’s face looked gaunt and weak and he was panting. She explained in as few words as possible that Jake was wheezing and that he was covered in hives.
We packed into all of our cars and began the drive to the hospital. I was in the back seat of my aunt’s car with my Dad sitting in the driver’s seat and my aunt sitting shotgun. My father was speaking in a calm hushed tone but his eyes were wild and his face was morbid. I understood that Jacob wasn’t ok but I didn’t understand that he was at risk of death until much later.
All the cars reached the hospital at the same time. We piled out onto the pavement and rushed into the hospital lobby. My mom started to yell at the woman at the desk and we were ushered through the hospital. The adults told me to sit in this room that if I recall correctly had a bunch of children’s books in it. My uncle Steven said that they would be back and I waited. And waited.
Eventually it became too much for me and I started to imagine my baby brother’s screams for help, his heartbreaking sobs of torture, and his pained gasps for breath. I cried a bit but mostly held together do to the fact that I didn’t want Jake to hear me cry because it might worry him and make him feel worse. It was stupid to think he could hear me but I was only three and had never been in a hospital.
My dad walked into the room and told me that everything was all right. His faced had a relieved expression painted on to it but his body was tense and ridgid. He said Jake was fine and that things were ok. I stood there silently and hugged him.
The memory ended with that, a quiet reminder that life was like a string that could snap at any moment. Jake’s string came that close to snapping.
Before I truly remembered, I had been told what had happened in the abridged way with almost no detail. I knew that he had almost died but i hadn’t known the gruesome facts. The truth is scarier than fiction in that way. After I remembered the whole incident, I realized that ignorance truly can be bliss.