February 27, 2016. It was a calm, usual Saturday morning. I was downstairs in the game room of my dorm, when my houseparent said I had a phone call. I answered and it was one of my aunts. She told me that my siblings and I were going home for the weekend. I was hyped, as usual, to go home...or at least, at that time, I was.
I asked my houseparent if I could call my brother and sister, and she said I shouldn’t. This was strange of her to say that, and after an awkward silence she asked, “Why do you need to call them?” In my head, I thought, well it’s my family and my business, not yours. But I plainly told her, “My aunt told me to call them.” She nodded and let me.
I called my brother, Kyle, first and his houseparent answered, so I asked if I could talk to him. She told me, “We, uh, we don’t know how he’s doing.” My mind and heart were racing. What the hell was she talking about? After a silence she asked, “Why do you want to talk to him?” I responded, “To tell him we’re getting picked up for the weekend.” She let me tell him, and with that, I hung up and called my sister, Sasha.
Her houseparents didn’t question me, and it was a breeze. I packed two sets of clothes, as I didn’t know I’d be gone a lot longer than that.
About an hour later, my dad came and picked up my siblings and I and we were happy to see him. We laughed and had some McDonald’s and went home. After dropping off our bags, my dad said we were going to our uncle’s house.
The three of us got in the car, my brother’s houseparent’s words still picking at my mind. We got there and I saw two of my three older brothers, who lived with my uncle since they were young. One of my older sisters was there too. My brothers were acting really strange, standing stiff and almost emotionless. As if something heavy was on their minds.
We went in the living room, my dad telling us to sit down as he had bad news to tell us. I looked at Kyle, thinking it had to do with him. My heart raced as I sat on a couch, my older sister sitting between Kyle and I. And my sister Sasha sitting on an adjacent couch with my older brother, J-Lin. My other older brother standing up next to the couches. I watched and waited for my dad to tell us what was going on.
I looked to see tears forming in his eyes, before I knew it, they were forming in my eyes too. Then he said it. “Your mom...she hung herself.” In utter disbelief my heart dropped and shattered as I hung my head, quietly beginning to cry to myself as my older sister put her hand on my back.
I didn’t know what to think. It couldn’t be true, it just couldn’t be. There wasn’t any way. She wouldn’t do that to us, not to her children. She always told us that she loved us so much, she would never do this. Endless tears fell from my eyes, sorrowing pain piercing my the leftover pieces of my shattered heart.
Sasha cried into my older brother’s shoulder as my dad explained that she died the night before. He and my uncle went on about how it’s painful, but that’s why my older siblings were there. They knew what it was like to lose a mother. They said that our mom did love us, she always did. But I couldn’t help but think that if she loved us, why would she leave us like this?
My dad told my older siblings to go outside as he wanted to talk to Kyle, Sasha, and I alone. He put his arms around us, telling us that eventually it’ll be okay. And that it was okay to cry, to keep crying until there was nothing left. He said that sometimes he still mourned for his mom.
After about an hour, my dad went outside and let the three of us talk about it. Kyle isn’t a talkative one, especially for something like this. He didn’t say a thing as my sister and I talked about how we couldn’t believe it. We both thought it must’ve been a dream. But it was all too real.
The next day, we went to go see our maternal grandma. We all happily greeted each other, then the next minute I was fighting back tears as my grandma and my aunt started to cry. We all hugged each other and talked for a little while about plans for the services. Then it was time to leave.
The day after that, I went with Sasha and my grandpa (my grandma and grandpa separated long before I was born) to go to a funeral home in Chamberlain. We stopped at McDonald’s to get something to eat, then went across the street and down the road a short ways to the funeral home. Sash and I found our youngest sister, Kaleigha, there with my other aunt, who almost looked like a twin in comparison with my mom.
I stayed back near the entrance, not wanting to go see my mother’s lifeless body up front. Eventually, I was told I better go see her before she was placed in the hearse. I walked forward, dreading every single step I took. My legs growing ever so weaker as I got closer and closer. I took sight of her, fighting the sadness with every bit of strength I had.
The guy who ran the funeral home told me he was sorry for the loss, asking me when was the last time I saw her. I said, “It’s been over a month.” And I was ashamed to say that. Even though it was the truth, it was the sad truth. Her last words that she had ever said to me was that time over a month ago, when I had to go back to school from Christmas break. She hugged me and said, “I love you son.” And just thinking about those very words never fails to break me down.
I rode with my grandpa as a ton of cars drove in a line behind the hearse. My grandpa wanted to be the last car. I’m not sure if it was because it was formal, or because he simply wanted to be. He even swore and honked at a few people to go ahead of him.
When we arrived at the Community Center in my hometown, I stood outside. I could see my younger siblings on the far side. I heard one of my many other aunts call me over, saying I should be closer with everyone else. I didn’t realize how far away I was. They brought out the casket and carried her in as a drum group, which my dad was a part of, played an honor song for my mother.
I followed the crowd, seeing my mother’s casket and still trying to fight every tear from shedding. But it was no use. As soon as I could sit down, I poured out every bit of sadness that was in me. Crying for who knows how long. After waiting around as people set things up, it was time to go home. I was glad I had a phone to talk to some friends of mine. One in particular who said she was freaking out.
The next day was the first wake. My whole dorm came to attend and give their support. Though, only one of my friends, Justin, was really appreciated in all honesty. I hardly paid attention to what the priest said, just wanting to leave.
The day after, was the next wake. It was the same as the day before, but less people. It went by very slowly, being dragged out far too long.
Thursday….the day of the funeral. The day before we went shopping for appropriate attire. I was dressed up okay, black slacks, shirt, black and gray tie, with a dark gray hoodie my oldest brother (not one of the three that lives with my uncle) bought me. And to finish it off, my black Etnies shoes. Yeah, totally formal.
There was a long talk by the priest before me and all of my siblings that were on my mom’s side, even my older sister, Kiersten, who I haven’t seen since I was a kid, was there. My grandma, my two aunts. We were all there, looking at my mother’s body in her casket. Kiersten began rubbing my back as I cried quietly to myself, the tears dropping onto my hoodie.
After about fifteen to twenty minutes, we sat down in our seats. Everyone else that was there formed a long line, looking at all the pictures, paying their respects, and shaking our hands or hugging us all. I kept staring at the obituary that was read at both wakes, and at the funeral. After the main services were over, it was time to leave for the cemetery.
I don’t really remember the ride there, but it was long. We parked and got out, I had a rose in my hand. I watched as the grave was dug, a prayer was said, and her casket was lowered into the six foot hole. I let the tears fall, but I didn’t make a sound. Everyone put their roses in, I was one of the last to do so.
Then the men who were related to, or were friends of my mom began burying. Getting shovels and putting in as much as they could, switching out every few minutes. My dad told me I could help if I wanted. But I just stood there. And I regret just standing there, unable to help. So much for being a good son if I can’t help put my mom’s resting place together...
After it was over, I got in the car with my dad and siblings. Staring out the window, as I realized, my mother was gone….for good. And I’d never see, or hear her again.
For the rest of that weekend, I stayed at home. Trying to keep it off of my mind. Then going back to my dorm on Sunday, and to this day, never truly being able to heal. But I guess you can't when tragedies like this happen...