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Healing Takes Time
Being able to let go of a loved one isn't very simple. Life never stops going. Even with the blink of an eye you can miss the most important moment in your entire life. A moment in time can flip your whole life around. One day your happy and the next you are terribly sad. One day life is amazing then the next you have a whole new way of trying but not succeeding to survive the days. The day you die is better than they day you were born, I was told this many of times after the "accident". This story I am about to share isn't a happy story with some happy ending, but its a real story. It's a real story with real feelings and real people.
Before I bring you through this chaotic journey I would like to explain the relationship my cousin Sam and I had. We grew up right around the corner from each other and basically spent everyday together when we were little. She was twelve at the time of this tragedy and I was fourteen. We had grown apart from each other but that didn't lessen the love I had for her. She was like a little sister to me. She got on my nerves and could sometimes get me mad but at the end of the day I didn't care, I still loved her, and I still do.
It was a happy day with the good old family. We all headed out to the fishing camp in Shell Beach. It was my two parents my older sister Claire, my two cousins Samantha who was twelve and Brooke who was fifteen, my aunt and uncle, and then my grandpa and his new wife. Even though it was a damp cloudy day in Louisiana it didn't stop us from going out to the dock to go crabbing! We all went down and while the parents talked the four of us, Claire Brooke Samantha and I, ran up and down the dock dodging the ant piles and baiting crab nets. My mom followed us taking pictures for the many memories. I remember that I was wearing my favorite T-shirt that was pink and said life is good on it, while my cousin Sam was wearing a lime green shirt with a beautiful, bible verse on the back of it. It said "where love is present, life it full! God is love." (John 4:8)
A boat came down the river with a ton of fish and told us that the fishing is great today and if we had time we should go out. So after talking it over we decided to break in the new small fishing boat that my grandpa had bought. Because the boat was small my dad drove and he took the four girls, including me. We loaded the boat and set off in good hopes of catching fish. We made a quick stop for some live bait at the bait shop on the river then continued on through the winding river in order to reach the mouth of the lake. Like I said before the boat wasn't to big so we decided to opt out of life vest because maneuvering around the boat was already hard enough. But once it started to drizzle I grabbed a life vest in hopes of keeping my favorite shirt dry. Everybody was making fun of me and saying, "why are you wearing that Hannah" and my exact response was "it's my life, this tiny thing can save my life. My life vest is my life."
We stopped the boat, put down the anchor, got situated and then cast out. The first thing Samantha notices are these 3 white post stinking out of the water. Claire got the first bite and was screaming "IT'S A MONSTER, IT'S A MONSTER!" We all laughed as she struggled in the fight, but then lost what she thought was a monster. This was one of the best days I have, we were all getting along and happy. We made jokes and the smiles were plastered on all five of our faces. Claire, Brooke, and Samantha all caught fish and my dad took a picture of them with there fish on his phone. Now it was my turn to score, we sat and waited but nothing. The sun was staring to go down and it was about 4:30 in the evening so we decided to head back.
We picked things up and started our journey back. My dad drove with Samantha in the passenger seat me and my sister next to one another in the back and Brooke in the front. As we enter the opening to the river we begin to joke around. We are making our way through the winding flow of water when we come to a bend in the river. The bend is wide enough to where you can't see what is to come, and very sharp. We round the corner hugging the inside of the turn, like we are supposed to. When we make the turn a much larger fishing boat is coming head on and pretty fast. My dad scream "HOLD ON!" as we approached the large boat unable to prevent the collision ahead. We all brace our selves for the impact. I shut my eyes for what felt like minutes but I know was only seconds and then BAM.
Confusion and Chaos:
I am ejected out of our small flat boat and hit the water like a brick wall. I am tumbling and turning under the water unable to find the surface. I find my way to the top and sit in the water floating on my life vest.
My head is spinning by now and I hear my dad scream from our boat, in a tone I will never forget in a million years, "MY BABIES!" My sister Claire screams I am right here then I and after me, Brooke. I look around and swim to the closest person I could reach which was Brooke, I notice something isn't right in her eyes.
Brooke picks her head up and yells "Sam, Sam where is Samantha, she is under the water somewhere, where is she."
When she emerges I am trying to console Brooke, trying to believe that what I say is true but I know it isn't. We both look at the water right in front of us and we she her flip flop float on top of the water like someone had taken them off and placed them there. Brooke is a year round swimmer so immediately dives into the water in hopes of pulling up Samantha but when she pops up she is empty handed. She does this several times and every time comes up empty handed and even more dissatisfied than the last. With tears flooding my eyes all I can think is what will happen next.
The whole time me and Brooke are together searching my dad had pulled Claire up into the boat and said to call 911 and then back to the camp to send help. My dad dove into to the water to come up with the same disappointment as Brooke. He yells at Brooke to get out of the water because boats are coming and its not safe. She refuses and dives back in.
I pull her onto the small shell shore as we sit and scream at the men in the other boat to help. They look at us like we mean nothing, like we are invisible to them, like there isn't my twelve year old cousin somewhere in the deep murky water. I look down to my legs and all I see is blood everywhere. I have two deep cuts up my both of my legs. I try to wash it off with water but blood keeps on coming and the more I try the worse it get. I close my eyes and all I hear is sobs and cries for help.
Multiple boats have arrived at the scene and my dad swam over to me noticing that he had been hurt and he could barley move. A family in a boat gathered my dad and now not the 4 girls but the 3 girls up and brought us back to the dock. What was only a 5 minute boat ride was more like a year long boat ride. During this time I tried to organize my thoughts so I could see what happened with some clarity. When reach the dock, there are ambulances and dozens of people swarming around us, I am wrapped in a towel and brought back to our camp. while my dad was immediately put into an ambulance and brought to the hospital. I am told to shower and put some dry cloths on. I get in the shower but find myself jumping out of the shower because my legs were not the only place I had gotten cut. I had cuts all over my body. From what? At the time I had no idea, but I then came to the realization that I had broken fishing poles when I flew out of the boat.
When I get out the shower I am sat down at the table with the fishery and wild life men to give an account of what had happened. As I sit there looking at Brooke and Claire ramble on about the collision I sit back and nod my head to show that at I agree. After we have made things clear my legs are bandaged up and I am bombarded by close friends and family that have rushed here to help. I sit on the sofa waiting for something to happen but nothing does, so we wait and wait. I suddenly close my eye and ask God for a miracle to happen, that suddenly Samantha would walk in door like any other day.
We had a priest come to the camp that night and pray with us, and then my mom and I were driven by a friend to the hospital to see my dad while Claire and her boyfriend followed in his car. When we reached the hospital I wasn't allowed to see my dad but I knew we had broken his ribs and was bruised up really bad. We were shuffled around in the hospital for a couple of hours and then my sister and I were brought home by our neighbor and by the time we go home it was around 12.
I was in such denial, we all were. At this point I had locked my feelings in a box and put them away. I can Remember saying things that I would have never said at the time if I had not frozen all my feelings out.
The days after all of this were very strange. People were constantly in and out our house, in and out and in and out. People would come up and ask how are you, and are you okay, and all I wanted to do was role my eyes and say what the heck do you think. Obviously I wasn't near alright and wouldn't be for a while. I had friends come and go keeping my busy and somewhat happy. Brooke was staying at our house because Samantha's body had still not been found so her parents were still at the camp. This whole experience brought us together. My dad was still in the hospital but by the second day he was able to come home and be with family, but family just wasn't complete Sam had still not been found. The first time I saw my dad after the accident was horrible. Claire, Brooke, and I all walked into the room where he had to stay for days because he was unable to walk, and he immediately broke down into tears, in his eyes he had taken the responsibly for Sam death which wasn't true, we were in the right. If you have ever seen your dad cry before imagine that but times that by ten, it broke my heart.
On the third day of our search it was time, God had answer our prayers and brought her home. She was home. We had found her body and now we had to heal, she thankfully went peacefully and didn't drown, she had died instantaneously. The search party had found her body by the 3 white poles sticking up out of the water that Sam had noticed. I didn't know weather to feel joy or sorrow. I was happy she was found but finding her means she is actually gone, forever. There was no more time with her on earth, no more jokes and giggles, nothing, just memories.
Summer was ending and it was time to get back to school. Things were nowhere near normal and hysterically crying was routine for most everybody in the house. People had backed off of the family forgetting what had happened only a month ago. I always thought to myself how it wasn't fare that they were able to move on with there normal lives while we sat in this frozen state of sadness.
The fist day of school had come, as the three of us walk into the crowded gym people would just stare not sure what to do, all I wanted to do was scream at them 'yes it happened'. The days were long and miserable only to get home and not be able to do any homework. Things stated to get better as time went on though.
All of the first holidays without Samantha were very hard but as a family we got though it moving on in life, picking each other up as we tumble down.
Healing over time:
It has been a year and a half since my whole world changed and I feel pretty good, that is something I though I was never going to be able to say again. My family is stronger and we have immensely grown in our faith. I wouldn't say this was the best thing that has happened to me but I defiantly think that out of all this bad has come some good. Relationships are stronger, life is seen in a different way, and I now have a beautiful angel in heaven. I always tell myself if God brings you to it he will get you though it and that is what he has done in my life!