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Rushing waves devoured my saddened soul, the day they also devoured my home. It was a day to be celebrated. Mothers all around the world would accept gifts, from the heart, from loved ones. A day that would be burned into their memories forever. Especially my mother’s.
Happiness filled the gloomy, rain-stained air. Week long storms made the air heavy against my sweat-soaked skin. My body was too tired to move. But every time I would try to sleep, my half functioning brain wouldn’t let me. It knew that once I slipped out of consciousness again, the reoccurring nightmare would come haunt my inner most thoughts, leaving my body in an unreliable, restless state. Faced against the disgusting, crayon-stained, banana colored, “wall”, I sighed with great exasperation. If walls could talk, this specific one would have a story to tell, I thought to myself. It would tell of children with visions of becoming artists, as to which are beautifully illustrated on this masterful canvas. What master pieces, what creativity. All of a sudden, a jolt of great force against my shoulder interrupted my daydream. Again it hit me like lightning zooming from Zeus’s immortal arm, on top of Mt. Olympus. That was followed by an all to familiar, raspy, whisper in my ear. “Wake up!” it bellowed. I gave a grunt of recognition and pulled the covers up over my head. Then I tried to pretend as if I was asleep, ignoring him once again. That never worked with him. He was never sympathetic of my lack of sleep. One last boom came from his mouth, echoing through my head. “Okay, I’m up!” I replied. I closed my eyes, and gave a loud sigh of unwillingness. “No”, the mountainous echo called, originating from the passage where light would seep in and disrupt my beauty rest. “ Get up! It’s Mother’s Day and your helping.”
A quickened glance at the clock revealed that it was even too early for my father to be strutting about. Once I ripped the covers off, I was blasted with cold, winter-like air, though mid-May, causing my body to mold massive goose bumps all over. My legs were like rubber as I ambled across the room, aimlessly searching for the unfortunate, nonexistent light switch. Piles of clothing had magnetized towards my uncoordinated feet. Blindness filled my pupils. Blurry visions skewed the view of my pestering younger brother. As he silently reached into my room and turned on the light, his happiness-draining laugh filled my mind with overwhelming irritation. I chased him down the hall, leaving behind my once tired self. Particles of thick smoke, containing the smell of bacon, sausage, and pancakes, enveloped us as soon as we entered the kitchen. The traditional Mother’s Day breakfast would never be the same.
I knew something was wrong when I stared into my father’s unshaved, stress revealing, wrinkle crested face. He unsteadily laughed at me, while he watched me try to catch my breath. He read my mind once he noticed my penetrating stare. Slowly, he pointed at the bay window. “It’s rising a foot every half an hour,” was his response to my astonished face. Our house was nestled about one hundred feet from a river. Half way between our house and the river was a giant Weeping Willow, to which the water had risen. Was this how Mother Nature celebrated this special day?
It was rushing toward the house like high tide. I stared in devastation and astonishment, watched, and waited. I gazed with great interest as two massive men pulled one of neighbors out of his home. He was as willing to leave, as a rock star would have been to leave a Barbie convention (as my 7th grade Language Arts teacher would have put it.) It was almost as if our neighbor knew the fate of his humble abode. I watched in total awe as the two rock like men lifted the tiny, elderly being off of his front porch and into an inflated raft, hauling him around like a toddler wheeling a bright red wagon.
Breakfast was ready, and it was time to wake my mother from her slumber, where nothing like this could happen. She was probably more comfortable there, than she would ever be in reality, I thought to my self. I faintly heard my dad, down the hall, break the news to my
mother, in the most creative way. “Happy Mother’s Day!” his silly voice reverberated, “Now pack up we have to leave.”
For about an hour, we packed 2 sets of clothing, and “just in case”, we picked up everything off of the floors and put them all into higher, less accessible places. Soon they would be coming for us. The water had reached our front steps, spreading evenly across our front lawn. My father had put palettes for us to walk on, if we needed to. Heavy rocks held the palettes in place so the rising water didn’t pull them out into the abyss. I heard hefty, muscular footsteps thump against our wooden steps. A swift rap at the door followed. That tapping at the door was telling my mind it was going to be okay, but my heart said different. I couldn’t tell if the knots in my stomach were coming from nerves, or hunger. Breakfast was cancelled for those who chose, or were forced, to help gather overnight bags and such. Deafening questions raced through my head. Creating an enormous migraine, which I would find out later, was the least of my problems. Well, the ‘Happy’ was diminished. But was it still Mother’s Day, wasn’t it?
My father’s thunderous voice continued to shout, as the rapping on the door increased in vitality. His yells were followed by a brief ‘manly’ discussion between my father and the husky firefighter. When the firefighter finally left, my father beckoned my mother into the kitchen. They whispered almost silently. I could tell that my mother was trying to keep everyone calm and orderly as we helped each other pack for another half an hour. About an hour later, we were all ready with our coats on, and something to do in the car¬¬¬¬- a game boy, a book, crayons, and coloring books. Never did I think that that was the last night that would be spent at that house. As I had walked up hill behind our house leading to our neighbor’s house, where the cars had been parked hours earlier. If anything like that had run through my mind, I would have broke down and cried, and never stopped. I was unusually calm unusually calm, almost as if someone else’s spirit had inhabited my body, or may be I was set into autopilot. Or may be it was the dark, and dreary atmosphere of celebratory extents. If my mind just focused on the thought of Mother’s Day, everything would be all right. Maybe, just maybe.
The car ride seemed to take forever. Mainly because when my siblings would ask where we were going, the response was “ For a ride”, or “I don’t know”. Now when those terrifying words left my father’s lips, I knew something drastic was happening, or he was taking us to a surprise restaurant and everything would be okay. It didn’t help any that all the roads were closed, and we were all hungry. The entire time my fingers were crossed, that we were just going out to eat. Approximately 2 hours later, the roads seemed familiar to me. Oh, no! I thought. We were in the town of Weare. Where my aunt and uncle live, with their two teenage boys. By the time we got there-taking all the detours humanly possible-it was time for dinner.
Claustrophobic, wasn’t precisely the word to describe the 3-bedroom, one bathroom, trailer. But it was the closest that came to my mind after a few weeks were spent there, with my entire immediate family of six living in one room. Unfortunately, my entire summer vacation was spent there, from May 14th – August 31st. Relationships were torn apart, tensions rose, there was no absolutely no privacy. I lost myself, and I wasn’t sure life was worth living. But one thing was for sure…Mother’s Day will never hold as much passion as it did.
The worse thing that could have happened…did. Our household was totaled (including our happy-go-lucky attitudes)… on Mother’s Day, one of the most celebrated, and happiest, American holidays that exist. Hopelessness grabbed me at every possible moment. A never-ending flood of warm tears rushed down my face, hours at a time. From May 14th to August 31st, we were homeless. No privacy, and never any time to myself. I felt captive, there was nowhere to run, no safe place to seclude myself in. As well, deep sympathy for my mother also crowded my head. She did all of the: cleaning, grocery shopping, and cooking. She didn’t know what to do with herself. My days consisted of sitting in my mother’s Chevy Lumina, trying to read Mary Higgins Clark novels through watery eyes, trying to get as much alone time as possible. But it still wasn’t the same. To make matters worse, all summer long, it was down pour, after down pour. Thunderstorms galore. Each one causing more pain than the one before. Memories of my friends, my school, my room, and my past life…all washed away.
Highland Park, IL