Screaming. That’s how the day started, with my mother’s cliche horror movie screams. I was just turning ten, and I don't remember what day of the week it was, but what I did remember, is that it was Halloween. My mother was three months pregnant with my baby sister. I had school that morning, and at that time I shared a room with my brother; who is three and a half years my junior. My room was quite messy, and this sticks out because when I woke up, I was in such a panic that I tripped after I threw myself out of my bed. I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself.
The previous night I had stayed up late, till God knows when, and when my mom was screaming I thought I was dreaming. I sat up in my bed, quite disoriented, and tried to figure out what was going on. The screaming continued. At this point I could make out words. “Kevin shot himself in the head!” Over and over. Kevin, my grandfather, and my mom’s step-dad, had shot himself in the head.
Disbelief had my mind reeling, and this is the point when I tumbled out of my bed and fell over all the toys. My disheveled self shot back up and stood at the doorway, and listened as my mother's screams turned into choked sobs as my father told my mother to calm down and peppered her with questions.
I went into my mom's room, which was right next to mine, and my father barked at me to get back into the bed. My brother, still sleeping stirred, as I jumped back into bed. I laid there, frightened, trying to make myself as tiny as possible. I didn't cry. I couldn't have been true, and yet. And yet. Wide awake with shock and fear, daring not to make a sound, I waited for what felt like hours, listening to my mother cry. I can’t really remember what happened after that until, later that night my mom came home with her siblings.
My mom is nineteen years apart between her half brother and (I believe) twenty one years apart from her half sister. Kaylee, who was eight has asperger's, which is a form of autism, didn't know what was happening and would randomly start crying. My mother gave us all the story that he died of kidney failure and that Patrick and Kaylee would be staying with us for a few days. My brother, not understanding, was delighted. Still, I didn’t cry.
As the night progressed my mom, in an effort to keep our minds busy, took us trick or treating. I was a pirate princess, Kaylee was Rainbow Dash, Patrick; a soldier, and my brother Bradley was a cowboy. No one would talk about what had happened earlier that day. Everything was fine, except for when Kaylee would sometimes start to cry and say that she missed her dad. The first time she did, my mom flinched.
Later, when all the kids were crunched together in my room, my parents argued and argued. I turned to Patrick, who is eight months older than me, and I told him that I was sorry. The only reason I remembered this specifically, was because he turned to me and he said, “It’s okay, my parents argue all the time... I mean argued.” I turned over and pondered this, because I didn’t know how to respond.
In the following days or weeks (I don’t remember, it felt like months) we went to a small viewing. Out of the four children, I was the only one who knew that he had killed himself. I remember before I went to see him, my dad turned to me and said, “ Faith, you don't have to go and see him. Would you like to have your last memory of him alive and happy, or would you like to tell him goodbye?” I thought back to the last time I had seen him, which was at St. Mary's fair, and he was not happy at all, he was very sad, and didn’t pay much attention to us. He seemed distracted, like he didn't want to be there That was in the beginning of October. I went inside.
He was on this table, and had the American flag draped over him. I vaguely remember someone telling me he was in the U.S. Coast Guard. My grandmother was crying and my parents were solemn. Patrick looked like he wished he was anywhere else and Kaylee looked alarmed. There were other seats, but they were all empty. I looked at Grandpa Kevin more closely, and saw that they had a towel draped over his head. I asked why, and my grandmother started to cry harder, and she told me that she had given him a bad haircut. I knew she was lying, but I didn’t say anything. He looked almost like he was sleeping. Almost. His face was rather oily, and I wanted her to take the towel off, so I could see for myself what he had done. Still, I didn’t cry.
The day of his funeral came, and there was a priest (the most surprising thing of all, about his suicide, was that he was catholic) and he was cremated. There was a picture and an expensive urn, and a lot of people cried, and my mom stood up to say a few words. She got halfway through her third sentence and started to sob. She composed herself and continued on. I looked over at my baby brother, who didn't often cry, and he was rocking back and forth in his chair, looking so broken. I looked at the picture and I studied the faces of the room.
It wasn't until I thought about how he had killed himself and how everyone here was so affected by it, that I realized how sad he must have been. How utterly sad and alone he must have felt to do this. No one payed any attention, until after he was dead. By then it was too late. That’s when I cried.