I Am My Aunt's Keeper

April 18, 2012
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It was a warm day, sometime in late February. I was packing up my stuff from my cubbie in Mr. Stocker’s room, and I was excited to get on the bus because I was finally going to get to know my bestfriend Egypt’s secret. That was the only thing I thought about.

I was the last to enter onto the bus. I looked around to see if Egypt was in any of the front seats. To my amazement, she wasn’t. As I took up a lonely spot in a cozy two seater, couldn’t help but to feel sad and disappointed. A few kids had asked me if I was alright, and I had answer yes. Once we pulled up to Sussex Avenue, I had felt a little jump of happiness, because I knew I’d see Nadiyah, my sister. One by one everyone boarded onto the bus, all except my sister. I was fully convinced she wasn’t coming on once the bus had finally reached the end of the school’s driveway.

I had began to feel abandoned. I thought I was “ Why is everybody leaving me?” A question no one seemed to have the answer to.

I walked up the hill to my house, where I found Nancy my other friend sitting on her stairs. She seemed to be in a happy mood, so that brightened up my mood as well. We talked about school, her little brother and both our pets. How mine always lived longer than hers because her pets always died quicker. When I reached home, (Nancy only lived 3 doors down from me) I walked in and up the stairs, only to find my mom. She was sitting alone on the couch, crying and laughing, laughing and crying. I walked over to her and sat on her lap, she told whomever it was to hold on a sec, and she’d get back to them. She cupped her hand over the bottom of the phone and told me she was talking to her sister, and that they hadn’t talked in years. I asked her if it were Aunt Wanda or Auntie Sky, because they were the only two Aunts on my mother’s side that were sisters I knew of. She replied with a head shake, so I knew I was wrong.

She handed me the phone and told me to introduce myself. I took the phone and said “Hello, my name is Ashlyn Marsh, I’m eight years old, I have a bunch of brothers and sister, and I like cats but we have a dog and my favorite color is pink.” The on the other end woman laughed a highish laugh so it wasn’t hard to determine they was another female. The person responded, telling me I was just like my crazy father, I give out blunt, and strange information. And then they laughed again. By this time I was looking at my mom, and my mom was texting away so I just sat silently on the phone waiting. The person took a breath and then said that her name was Tabatha, and that she was 36 years old, she lived in New York and that she and that she also had a lot of brothers and sisters too. I said that was cool and then I said goodbye. My mom took the phone, and they continued to talk, once again. When my mom finally hung up the phone and took a look at me. She asked if I knew who that was, and I said no, then she said that wasn’t just any ordinary woman, that wasn’t a stranger I’d just meet once and never speak to again, but that she was my Aunt, my mom’s older sister by a few years. My mom then went on to explain that she and my Aunt hadn’t talked in so long because there was no way to get each others information, (later on I found out they had gotten into this big argument) when suddenly, out of the blue here comes this random phone call from a 347 number, which my mother already knew was from New York and she picked it up and it was here. She also said that whole she while she was on the phone, by the time I walked in, they were arranging for us to spend sometime together over in New York, and that would be an experience I’d never forget or regret. She sure enough turned out to be right.

When my sister had finally appeared from our bedroom, she looked like she had stayed home all day. Her hair was a mess, her clothes were baggy and worn out and it was obvious she had just woken up.

“Where did you go? I was looking for you and you never showed up!” I always had taken things the extra mile when I was younger.

“I was here. I’m sick remember?” and then she pushed me up against the wall, not hard enough for me to cry, but hard enough for me to feel mad and embarrassed. I could tell she was joking, otherwise I would have pushed her back.

My mom filled Nadiyah in on everything she had missed and her reaction seemed to be equal to mine. It was like next weekend couldn’t come fast enough. After anxiously awaiting a week, the weekend I had been waiting for had finally come! e loaded up the car and headed out the first time, I met my long lost aunt (well long lost to me that is). She was a lot taller then my mom, and her hair was cut funny. She helped us unload and place things by the porch where this strange man, was taking our bags in.

I nudged her and asked her if that was her boyfriend, and she only laughed. (I began to assume that she was a woman that enjoys laughing) She called the man over and my mom ran up and hugged him. I thought “Clearly these two have history together. Maybe an ex-boyfriend of some sort.” He laughed and said “It’s nice to see you too big sis,” (or that is at least what I thought he had said, and if that’s what was said, I took back my thoughts on the ex thing.) after they talked for what seemed to be forever, he finally came over to my sister and I extending his arms wide out, it was clear he was asking for a hug. But we looked at him strangely shook his hands and he said he was my mother’s younger brother Taraghi, and that he was going to be my most favorite uncle in the history of uncles.

We all stayed outside talking, my mom was joking around with her brother, which left us with my aunt. She told us how it’s been so long since she’s seen, or has talked to our mother. She talked about how much fun we were going to have this weekend, and that she hopes we make a lot of new friends. It finally began to though we had been outside forever, that is until it began to rain and everyone hurried inside.

Once we were inside, everything was so pretty and bright. Her living room was a somewhat tan color and the furniture just a shade darker. My mom and my aunt made burgers, hot dogs, and fries on the grill and chips for everyone that didn’t want fries to eat and we sat around for the rest of the night watching Jaws and the Scary Movies comedy series. When I woke up the next day, I was in someone else’s bed, I looked over and saw my sister Nadiyah on the other side of me and a teddy bear in between us.. I got out of the bed, stretched and walked towards the kitchen to find something to eat. My mom was asleep on the couch and a wine glass was on the table near her and my Uncle. It seemed kinda strange, but that let me know they must have had an after party when all the kids went off to bed.

After I had became too lazy to continue searching for food, I decided to round the corner and look at her pictures that she had placed everywhere. I kept seeing this same little boy appear, repeatedly. I was thinking about going back to sleep, but epically failed, instead I stayed up and watched cartoons, trying to get my mind off of who the little boy was., and it worked.... only for awhile, then he came back. He didn’t seem that much younger than me, I’d say about a year or two younger than me. After watching Spongebob Squarepants forever, and then watching Behind the Hedge, other people started to wake up and greet each other. When suddenly the same little boy from the picture popped up into the room, where my sister and I were. It was as if I was in a Scary Horror movie We stared at each other for what seemed to be a long time, until finally I told him to stop being a little creep, awkwardly staring at me like he had nothing else better to do with his life. (I knew that was mean to say, but I figured that would hurt his feelings enough to get him off my back for a while, at least until I got a name out of this kid.)

He had snapped at me saying I was in his room, and that he was nice enough to let my sister and I stay in his bed. That he didn’t have to do anything nice because we were strangers to him, but because his mommy said for him to be nice he had to. After he had said that I had gone to my aunt and filed a complaint against the little brat. She called him in and introduced him to me saying that I was his older cousin, and her second eldest niece. Then she turned to me and said that the little boy was her only son, Makai. I thought to myself “Wow, I really messed up this time,” but then my mind had wandered away from the fact about him and I had only been focused on his name.

“Makai.” It was just a weird, abnormal name. I mean I met about four Ashlyn’s before ever going to NY, so I knew that my name wasn’t weird. Finally all the tension finally eased down, Makai and I began to talk. We talked about school and how I was a second grader and how he was in kindergarten. We went outside and played kickball for the entire afternoon, and somewhat into the night, not completely though.

Before I knew it, it was Sunday. The last day we were able to stay in NY. My mom had decided we didn’t have to go to church today, so I went back to sleep until around 11:30 to noonish. I woke up to the voices of Keshia Cole, Missy Elliott and Lil Kim’s new hit song, “Let It Go” blazing out from the speakers in my aunt’s 5 year old stereo.

My mom, uncle, aunt, and some other friends were dancing in the middle of the room to it, and when I attempted to join in, I was rushed off to go and get dressed. We had a lot planned for that day. I didn’t ask questions, I just went and did what I was suppose to do (That was back in the days when I thought rebellion resulted in a death sentence).

We finally got filed into the car and pulled off. I don’t know what was wrong with me but I think I had fallen asleep because next thing I knew, I was at the movie theatre. I can’t remember what movie we saw, but I remember it being funny. Not too long after leaving the movies did we head out to the mall. We didn’t buy much, we basically browsed through everything. I guess that is what you call window shopping. We ate in the food court and headed right back out the door, and headed to the block party of a lifetime.

For most of the weekend's over the next five months, we had back and forth visits, just chilling, still getting to know each other.

My brothers had taken some time out from their lives to come visit us for a day. They saw that we had company, but rather than just leaving and coming back some other weekend, they decided to just take us all out to see a movie, get some pizza, and ice cream. None of us were up to just leaving all early just to go home, we went to the park and just went on the swings, and played some one-on-one basketball. It took forever (or at least that’s what it felt like) to get home but we managed. By the time we got back my aunt had to rush back to New York because something went wrong. So Makai stayed with us for a little while longer. After about an hour and a half, it was safe to assume that she was just then entering New York. The sky had begun to get extremely dark, so I knew a storm was coming.

It had been almost four hours until she came back, I began to think it took forever to get what she was getting. Then some thoughts began to flood my mind. Why didn’t she take Makai with her if she were just going home? Maybe she wasn’t going home, maybe Makai was gonna stay with us forever? Did she ever really love him? If she did, she wouldn’t have left him here with us. Was she lying, just so that she could leave?

Finally my mom’s phone rang and it was my Aunt Tabatha. She called to let my mom know everything was alright and that she’d be with us in a while. As they hung up the phone,, the last words I heard out of my mother was I love you too. A while later Makai had awaken from a nap and ran into the kitchen crying, saying the thunder was going to eat his mommy. But I told him thunder can’t eat people. The sky became darker and it seemed like the rain picked up faster than it did before. Around the time she should have pulled up in front of the house. We had gotten a call on the house phone. It was from the New Jersey state police. I brought the phone over to my mom and I could tell they were asking a lot of verification questions, because my mother just kept saying “Yes officer.” and “No sir.” My mom’s eyes began to water up. She sent my sister, Makai and I off to bed.

Nadiyah and Makai listened, but I didn’t, I knew something was really wrong. From my eavesdropping, I picked up that a woman identified as my aunt had been involved in a head on car crash by a drunk driver. My mom dropped the phone and she couldn’t say anything more. Once she had managed to gather herself, she picked up the phone and continued the conversation. My mom thanked the officer for his time and the news, the officer wished her best wishes for her and her family. She then hung up the phone and wouldn’t touch it again. A few moments later, when my dad had came home my mom ran up to him and he just held her.

That unforgettable day. April 6. I was in the second grade. A date I would never forget. I officially found out more about the situation when I came home from school. My mom had been planning her wedding with my dad. They were due to renew their vows in late July, July 20th to be exact. My aunt had given my mom so many amazing ideas. Being that my Aunt was suppose to b my mothers made of honor, it was too hard trying to find someone else to take up that roll. My mom ended up having one of her closest friends Rachel becoming the maid of honor.

No one that really dealt with my aunt on a daily bases, was strong minded enough to plan her wake, or her funeral so my mom was the only one left to plan the funeral, because she was the only one who knew at the time what my Aunt wanted and how she liked things to be done. My mother went over the funeral arrangement with my aunts mother, and when they could finally come to a common ground, my aunt’s mother paid for the entire thing. My mom had made a huge decision to bury my aunt in her bridal gown, so that my mom would have a piece of her forever.

I still have a piece of her as well. My sister, aunt and I had matching dresses, down to the last thread. Besides this pink Teddy bear my aunt had bought me as a late birthday present, I really had nothing to remember her by.

It was finally the day of the funeral and I was sure to myself I could handle it. But I was wrong. I couldn’t handle it. I was a nervous wreck. My legs wouldn’t stop moving, my eyes were shaking everywhere, I thought I had found a new friend, a new buddy, someone that would never leave me. But she did. I hated everyone around me, I hated my mom, my dad, my grandmother, anyone that was already closed to me I blamed and pushed away. I even blamed myself. But it didn’t seem to help anything. The more I complained, the more I cried, it didn’t bring her back, and nothing was ever going to. It felt like crying for help in the middle of outer space, no sound, no help. No one is coming to help you. So you feed off your own depression and eventually, emotionally die.

I really didn’t talk all that much, or smile for that matter for a couple or a few months. (about a week maybe before the wedding) My parents took me to the doctors just to figure out what was wrong with me. That made me draw further away from them. I felt like they were trying to get into my head, so I ended up getting closer to my grandparents and somewhat my sister.

Finally about a year later I had eased up off the whole death, and learned to understand death is apart of life and that everyone and everything dies at some point. My mom explained that if my aunt were here, she wouldn’t want me to be sad and depressed. She’d want me to be happy and move on with my life. I will never forget my aunt. She’s forever in my heart.





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