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On the morning of January 21st, 2010, one of my closest friends was suddenly taken from my life. Morgan was crossing Erie Street to get onto her school bus and go to Northview, when a car slammed into her at a high speed. The driver claimed she was in a rush on her way to work because she feared she was not going to be on time and was not paying attention to the road. She killed my cousin instantly. According to the bus driver, the bus lights were all on, and the stop sign was visible, she even started honking her horn in hopes of getting her attention. The driver never stopped, she figured she would “beat it” and sped past the crossing students. The careless driver’s little mistake changed my life forever.
The day started out like any other; I woke up, brushed my teeth, pulled my hair out of braids, put my blue plaid skirt on, and rushed out the door. The day was normal, I went to Language Arts, the Science, then Math, and then lunch. After recess, I walked into religion, and noticed my teacher, Sister Christine, was acting strangely nice to me and kept giving my sympathetic looks. As soon as school ended, I boarded my bus and waited to get to my stop. My grandmother usually picked us up at the bus stop so my sisters and I wouldn’t have to walk home in the cold weather.
On this day, my dad was waiting for us instead. I knew something was wrong as soon as I stepped off the bus and saw my dad’s gold minivan parked on the side of the road. My sisters and I walked to the van and asked my dad simultaneously, “Where’s is grandma?” He didn’t answer, but I glanced at him as there were tears building up in his bloodshot blue eyes. I braced myself for him to say that my great-grandma died, or maybe another older relative. I said, “Dad, was it Grandma Duris?” He looked at me, and then focused on driving. He shook his head no and took my hand. We arrived at home and I jumped out of the car holding my pink book bag.
I walked up my front porch stairs and looked up at my mom through the glass door. Her eyes were all red, as if she had been wiping tears for hours. She tried to crack a smile, but it just made her cry more. We sat down in living room and watched as my dad paced back and forth. After my youngest sister, Kendall, said, “Please tell us what’s wrong, “ my dad spoke up and said, “Your cousin, Morgan, has been in a car accident today.”
I cut him off and said, “But she’s fine, right? Is she in critical condition? Can we go to the hospital?” Tears started rolling down my face and onto my blue jacket.
My mom shook her head and said, “She didn’t make it, Kirsten.” Her words were followed by a high wail. I couldn’t believe what I had heard, my 15 year old cousin, whom I had just talked to week ago, was gone forever, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye.
I cried for hours that evening the rest of the day dragged on, everywhere I looked something would remind me of Morgan. I saw a picture and I remembered taking pictures with her n Thanksgiving; if I saw a hot dog, I would remember our contest to see who would eat the most on the 4th of July. The simplest objects would remind me of memoires that I had with her. I couldn’t eat because I felt like I was going to throw up the whole night. I could have watered a garden for month with all my tears. My friends only made the situation worse, but not on purpose. My phone was receiving messages all night, asking me if I was okay, or if I needed someone to talk to. I ended up just turning my phone off for the night to cope with everything. I cried myself to sleep that night, and many others to follow.
The next day, my parents made us go to school, but if we ever felt it was too much to handle then I was to come home. My dad took the day off and drove us to school that Friday morning, the drive down Bennett was quiet and short. Not one person in the car said anything. I was terrified of going to school, thinking that I was going to be bombarded with questions about Morgan, and that people were going to try to console me, but just make the situation harder. Luckily, we went to church that morning so when I walked into homeroom, my classmates didn’t have much time to ask me about the night before. The mass was usual, the same routine. I was grateful that I knew what would happen next. The students stepped up to the podium to give thanks, as usual, but then the priest said, “We would like to dedicate this Mass to Morgan Duris, whom has been struck by a car yesterday morning. May she rest in peace and may her family’s grief be risen with the Lord. Amen.” When I heard my pastor say this, my eyes overflowed instantly. I started to bawl my eyes out. I had to sit down and cry for at least 10 minutes. When I was finally humiliated enough, I ran out of the church and ran to school. I waited for my teacher at her door and told her I was sorry for running off before dismissal, she responded with an, “I understand. Go sit down.”
I sat down at my seat and rested my head on my arms. I silently sobbed for a little while, but then the fire alarm went off and I followed my classmates out of the Kotz Hall exit. We stood outside and all the girls made a circle around me, all for them asking me if I was alright, or if I needed a hug. I just put the biggest fake smile on my face and said, “I’ll make it through. Thanks though.”
The end of the day came quicker than I thought. After third period, no one asked me about the incident and it wasn’t brought up. I went home and cried more because it finally hit me that Morgan was never coming back, she was never getting back on Facebook, she was never going to text me back, one of my best friends was really gone. The whole thing was so surreal to me before now, that I was just astounded. I felt alone, like no one in the world could understand how torn apart I felt.
Eventually, I stopped crying all the time, and the subject is much easier to talk about. My family isn’t the same; at all of our reunions or get-togethers, my family isn’t loud or energetic anymore, we don’t have the same energy or excitement anymore, we don’t have the same energy or excitement in the room when we gather. Everyone tries their hardest to comfort Morgan’s parents once they lose it, because they both always do, and tensions are high because we’re always on our toes to not bring anything emotional into a conversation. Our family is broken and will never be the same.
I used to always love seeing my family and our close family friends whenever we got the chance to get all the Durises together. I still love my family and I do love seeing them, but whenever I go to the event I always get mistaken to be Morgan by her younger brother, Josh. It’s not his fault; he doesn’t understand that I’m not her. We do look alike; we were always told that we should have been twins. Josh has a disorder that causes the mitochondria in his cells not to do their job. He cannot move anything but his arms and is fed through a tube because he cannot move his mouth or tongue. Every time I see Josh and go to hug him, Jos starts to cry. The hugs he gives me end up being five minutes long because he thinks I am Morgan and he misses her, he doesn’t want to let go of her again. He always tries to pull me over to him when I finally loosen his grip and walk away. It kills me to see the tears rolling down his face when I walk away, that’s why I hate going to family events.
The Thursday morning of January 21st changed my life forever. An elderly woman took a new route to work and decided to speed up when she saw a bus stop sign. Then she hit and killed my cousin. Before that day I used to say, “See you soon Morgan!” Now whenever I talk to her I say, “Rest in peace Morgan.”