June 1st, 2016
A year ago at this time I sat with my family in a musty hotel room with uneven walls and the sound of that lonely bar next to us as we decided where we would go for dinner. If I recall correctly, there was a slight drizzle beginning outside at that moment, adding a new sense of foreboding to our current situation. Mom suggested the burger place down the alley and to the left, the one we passed on our way to this nowhere sort of place. We agreed; it seemed nice enough and we were starving.
Despite the rain, my family grabbed what we needed and walked through the rain to the restaurant, stopping at a small Native American shop along the way. The rain picked up just as we entered the restaurant, but we paid it no mind; we were safe inside, out of the cold and wet evening. I remember clearly how, for the first time in a while, my brother did not make an effort to pester anyone. My sister didn't beg and my youngest brother didn't cry. No one yelled, no one walked out of the restaurant in anger before the food even arrived at our table. It was rare for us to be like this, and I soaked it up. I don't remember much about the food; the fact that everyone was getting along was better than anything I could have ordered.
The sky had released all of its rain and the sun showed its face by the time we had left the restaurant. Armed with swimming suits and towels, we walked the distance to the hot springs across town. We payed, changed, and entered the well-kept pool area, my dad leaving his phone behind in the lockers.
The temperature of the pools ranged from relaxing hot tub to feeling as though your skin would melt off the muscle as soon as you entered the water. Me and my brother spent time getting in and out of various pools, messing around, and flinging hair ties at each other.
By the time we were exhausted enough to pull ourselves away from the pools, the sun was slowly lowering behind the mountains. We separated to change.
Then things changed for the worse.
My father received a text. Siera was missing, lost during a storm that tipped the boat she was on with a group of other people. He called my grandparents to get more information about the news. THings did not look good. When the storm blew over the lake, they didn't stand a chance against the raging waves and terrible wind that tormented the deep waters. I was afraid, but kept myself under control. We walked back to the hotel in quiet, secluded anxiety. I did not laugh at the motel with the sign that read “We have color TV” or want to jump in the river of the hot springs. THe idea that she could die was not something my head would accept right then.
Back at the room, I sat sullenly on the couch. The red and blue glow of BREAKING NEWS on the TV did not bring me any more comfort. To see it in front of me on the news only made things worse. A reporter delivered the facts, the numbers of those missing, but left out the numbers of family and friends who wanted nothing more than their loved ones to be home safe.
My family was waiting it out. Nobody said a word; nobody dared speak about the possibility of losing Siera. We could only wait for more information.
A ringing phone penetrated through my thoughts. Dad answered. There was news, but it wasn't good. Two had been found, four were still missing, the two were barely alive and Siera was still out there in the freezing depths of Bear Lake. With the sun below the horizon the temperature was dropping and would continue doing so as the night progressed. We were terrified. My mom let in a sharp breath and i put my head in my hands. We decided it was best if we pack up and leave. Within the hour, we were gone.
Nobody said much on the drive, either. I texted my cousin- him, Siera, and I grew up together. We were more than cousins, we were friends, too. He gave me updates and i reported them. I posted on my Instagram to let others know. Finally, my dad talked to us about the possibilities of what could occur as time went on. We were aware by this time that chances of surviving in the cold were growing slimmer.
I received from my cousin what i can only call news. It was neither good nor bad., but it was news. Siera had been found; they were trying to revive her. We made a decision to drop the family off and me and my dad would continue driving to the hospital in Salt Lake.
June 2nd, 2016
This day will be a day I will never be able to forget for a long as I live. Last year at this time, as my dad and I were making our way at a painfully slow pace to the hospital, my aunt called. She was crying; my heart sank. She said two words: “She’s gone”.
Never have i felt something so painful as those words. My hope gone, my soul reduced to less than dust, everything aching to trade her places. Someone so happy did not deserve to suffer so long and lose their fight. My control was lost, and I screamed at the world as we drove up that lonely hill. I was angry that she died instead of me, because she had been happy and I was not. I deserved to be the one to die, because Siera was going to do so much with her life. At the time I didn't expect to live through 9th grade with how depressed i was, and that was before the events that occurred that night.
The hospital walls were clean, the floors were polished, the bright light made everything sharp and neat. My body quivered and shrunk away from the light as i glared at the secretary with bloodshot eyes. We walked slowly through the halls towards the room where my family sat in a silent circle. A woman came in. My vision faded in and out like a skipping DVD. She directed us to a conference room. My cousins began to discuss memories they had with her. They laughed sadly. I cried angrily, not believing that they could laugh at a time like this. I was angry at life for letting me live while she could not grow up and experience all that was in store.
The lady returned and let us in one at a time to say our goodbyes. When mine came, I slipped a ring off my finger and onto hers. Quietly and unnoticed, I faded back into the shadows of the conference room when I returned.
She was buried with the ring. I don't remember much between the hospital and the funeral, except that my mom made me go to a camp for 2 days, where I recklessly swung from ropes and tried my best to get in a fatal accident. I blocked it all out whenever possible, slipping into a depression I had never known. By the time the funeral came, I had no more tears. I stood in all black and did not talk. While my cousins mingled and talked amongst themselves, I stayed in the car.
Today I am still dealing with the loss. I am better and no longer wish to die. Writing this is how I let a little pain loose. Dealing with loss is hard, but the best way to move on is to live a life that they would want you to. I try every day to do that, for my cousin Siera.