The Day It Happened

May 22, 2011
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Ring, Ring, Ring, starts the phone in my Aunt Dawns small house, echoing through the walls bombastically. I sit at the kitchen table in my pajamas playing cards with my parents’ best friend, as well as my own. We pretend the noise isn’t there; flipping each card with the same strategy a soldier has when at war. We both must beat our opponent to survive. She throws a Queen, which triumphs over my Jack, graciously. With the victory, my Aunt rises, lifting her portly body off the wooden chair and toward the phone. I can here the sound of my mother’s voice faintly. For some reason she seems to sound peculiar, different from her usual upbeat self. I only here her whisper the words, “Something…Matthew”, but with those two simple words my Aunt’s face looses all it’s color. She tells my Mom that she loves her and that we’ll be right there. I have never seen this look on an adults face before, a mix of shock, confusion, and sadness. Unhappiness emanates from her every facial feature. Her lips tight, eyes frozen in place, fixed on mine as though there was a force connecting them. She walks over to me, grabs my hand with trembling fingers, places her keys in her other hand and leads me to her minivan. She walks quick, but steadily and I have to jog to keep up. As we get in the car, she remains emotionless on the outside, screaming and howling from within.

My Aunt Dawn struggles to push her keys in the ignition, seeming to be in such a hurry for a reason unclear to me. She repeats, “It’s okay Amanda, everything’s gonna be okay, I’m bringing you home,” as I sit in the backseat quietly. I wonder why she’s acting this way, why she keeps repeating the same thing over and over, why she sounds as if she’ll burst into tears if I say one word. The ride to my house is relatively short, and is mostly her mumbling and me looking out the window, silently. She drives quick, but with caution. I’m unsure why a single phone call sent her in such a frenzy, interrupting our never ending game of cards, and forcing her to rush around like she did, leaving half dressed and so emotionless. We pull onto my street, the same street I’ve lived on for as long as I can remember, yet it looks unfamiliar to me. The pavement is lined with police cars; an array of red, white and blue cloud my vision. The cruel, yellow tape, which I’ve only seen on Law and Order, now resides all around my house. My home; the place where I live, where my family and I exchange laughter, love, friendship, memories. The tape swathes around my home like a spider envelopes it’s prey, trapping and freezing it in time. My tender, sweet, joyful home has turned into a somber, sad-stricken, unusual place. I watch as even the warm, green color of the trees dim and they become cheerless and miserable. There seems to be no kindness, no clarity, no color left in the world-just melancholy and confusion. Confusion is the perfect word to describe my thoughts. What happened? Why are their policemen everywhere and malicious, sallow tape surrounding my only place of comfort? Why are my parents standing in the middle of my driveway, embracing as though they’re never going to see each other again? I stare intently at the heartbroken individuals that are impersonating my cheerful, fun, loving parents. Their strong bodies now lean on each other, making no effort to support them. A place on each of their faces once filled with wide smiles, are now overflowing with tears and loss. I think of my brothers, Joey who’s 6 and Matthew who is just two and a half. Joey’s with my Uncle Mike. Matthew is with Mom and Dad, but where? I remember my aunt’s phone conversation just five minutes before, “Something…Matthew.” The overwhelming sense of emotion begins to infiltrate my mind and body, defeating my shield layer by layer until it reaches my heart. I burst out into a river of tears, and violently plunge to the floor of the backseat. Confusion and Pain reside in my mind, but instead of uncertainty as to what, I can’t understand why. The image of my parents crying into each other’s arms, trying to fix broken hearts that are permanently damaged. Fright now exists within all our hearts. We fear the reality that we now have to face, hand in hand, hearts and souls as one, confronting an event that will affect us for eternity.

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