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Laughter and the general buzz of voices filled the air. My nose was being assaulted by smells such as funnel cake, pizza, and salt water taffy. Off to my right people were lounging on the beach and little kids were making sand castles. To my left people were walking from ride to ride enjoying the atmosphere just like me. It was a typical day at the Seaside Heights boardwalk. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. I loved watching people. My eyes intently followed the cart on the Rockin’ Roller ride. The carts, all attached to the center, spun round and round. The whole thing kind of reminded me of an oversized spider twirling around. Laughter and smiling came from the cart I was following. This brought another smile to my face. In the cart was my dad and little sister Hannah. I loved to see them happy.
“Hi Meghann!” called Hannah
“Hi Hannah!” I called back. She smiled.
Something was wrong with her smile, though. It was like half her face was frozen. A smile like Elvis maybe, but that wasn’t her usual smile.
“Mom, what is wrong with Hannah’s smile?”
Who knew that a simple observation could lead to so many worries?
As soon as Hannah got off the ride the interrogation began.
“Hannah, why are you smiling weird?”
“I’m smiling weird?”
“Yes, now why were you doing it?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t even know I was smiling weird!”
I was a bit worried at this point. If Hannah was smiling weird one purpose, that was one thing, but it was a whole different ball park if she didn’t. I didn’t get to ponder on that subject, with a look from my mom, you know, that “look”, I dropped it. For the rest of the day I enjoyed myself and went on with my usual routine. Sulk silently, laugh at my dad, sulk some more, laugh at Matt, pick on Hannah, stay quiet in a way that bugs my mom, and annoy Hannah. Nothing more was out of the usual.
It wasn’t until we were all in my sister’s room that I started to worry again. I was on the oversized beanie bag by Hannah’s bed and Matt & Hannah were up in the top bunk.
“Matt leave Hannah alone,” I screamed up to him for what seemed like the hundredth time that night. Even though I was annoyed, these night time activities were a tradition. We were laughing and playing video games. That’s when my parents came in.
Tears silently streaked her cheeks, sobs wracked through her chest and she mumbled incoherently. I watched helplessly as my sister curled up into my dad’s lap and cried some more.
“Wh…Why do I have to go to the hospital?”
“We just want to make sure you’re okay sweetie,” my mom tried to explain; “You’ve had that fever all week and just yesterday you were complaining about a headache.”
I forgot about her “fever”. Hannah has been known to complain about various ailments so I just chalked off her latest illness as imaginary. Now that I thought about it, could her fever be connected to her smile? I just sat silently looking from my mom and my dad not knowing what to do. I felt like crying myself. What was wrong with Hannah?
They had left with Hannah about an hour ago. They wouldn’t be back for awhile. I just sat in the living room silently praying that everything would be okay. I remember a lot from that night. Not big details like what was said and what time it was but I do remember small things. Such as the fact my grandpa was outside smoking, (He was visiting for the week.) there were only two lamps on in the living room, Matt was in his room playing the 360 and the fact that on of my least favorite people in the world was sitting next to me. Cathy, my grandfather’s girlfriend. She was all smiles and giggles and acted as if nothing was wrong. I wanted to smack her. Here was my sister, sick, and all she cared about was how she learned to be a “gourmet” cook. Yeah, right. It was too quiet. I turned on the TV for back round noise. After about 1 What Not to Wear, 3 Clean House’s, and 2 Flip that Space they came home.
“So…” I drew out hoping they would fill me in.
It was my mom who told me.
“They don’t know anything yet but they want to do a CAT scan tomorrow.”
She didn’t sound too optimistic. On the plus side Hannah was in a much better mood with a McFlurry in hand. Hannah was easily curbed with bribes.
“Why does she need a CAT scan?”
I went to bed that nigh wondering why my mom didn’t answer my question.
I woke up at my usual time in the summer, 11:00 am, and went to the kitchen. My mom was already gone for work and my dad had left with Hannah for the hospital, this time one that could do the scans. I grabbed a box of cereal and started to pour it in a bowl. I ate slowly, bit by bit, cheerio by cheerio, all the while wondering if Hannah was okay. When I was done and had put the bowl in the sink the phone rang.
“’Ello,” I answered the phone
“Hey Meghann, how are you?” my mom’s voice came through the phone.
“Hey,” there was something wrong with her voice, “Have you heard anything from Dad yet?”
Way to be obvious Meghann.
“They’re still waiting,” there was a brief pause, “Meghann, you do know why they have to do a CAT scan, right?”
“They think she might have a brain tumor,”
My whole world froze at the moment.
“Brain...tumor?” I managed to make it a question, “Even if she does have one they’ll be able to fix it right?” I was grasping at running water.
“No, Meggy, if the tumor is where they think it is, there will be nothing they can do about it.”
“What happens then?” Un-shed tears gathered in my eyes. I knew the answer before she even said it.
“Hannah will die Meghann.” Now I could hear the desperation in her voice too.
No it couldn’t be. Hannah was too young to die. She was still in elementary school for Heaven’s sake! I refused to believe it.
“Are there any other reasons that could cause that to happen to her face?”
“Not that I know of. But we got to think positive, anything that happens we can get through together.”
Positive thinking, yeah like that ever worked.
I locked myself up in my room. My room had always been my safe haven and now I needed to think. A life time of memories flashed before my eyes.
Hannah coming home from the hospital for the first time.
Me yelling at Matt for taking off her little hat.
Helping Hannah ride her bike.
Hannah’s first day off school.
All of them involving Hannah and all painful to look at because soon there may be no more happy memories for her. I could feel a single tear roll down my cheek. It had been just a little bit over a year since my grandma died and I couldn’t lose my sister too. I bowed my head a prayed. I prayed like I’ve never prayed before. All I could think of was not Hannah, not now. I would be the nicest sister I could ever be if Hannah was just okay.
I don’t know how long I stayed in my room, all I do know what seemed like in no time I heard my dad’s booming voice.
He sounded happy, that was a good sign.
“So what’s the verdict?” A tiny glimmer of hope had made its way into my heart.
“Nothing is wrong; Hannah just has Lyme’s Disease.”
I wanted to laugh, I wanted to scream, and I wanted to cry. Nothing was wrong, she was okay, and Lyme’s Disease is curable. The more I thought about it the more I realized how easy of an explanation this was. Our house was right next to the woods and New Jersey has been known for its many cases of Lyme’s Disease. She even had the tell tale rings on her back. Everything fit. All Hannah had to do was take a pill a day for 8 weeks and she was fine. Even though nothing happened to Hannah I came to realize what an important part of my life she was. My life isn’t complete without Hannah. I have learned to cherish everyday I have with my family because you never know if the next day would be your last. One thing Hannah can truly know is that I love her deeply and nothing could change that.