It was July 13, 2007… Friday the 13th. A day I’ll never forget.
It was the beginning of the worst day of my life. The day I became an orphan.
It’s crazy how things can change so quickly. One minute can make the difference between life and death… between having parents and then all of a sudden not.
I have said for many, many years that I remember this day better than I remember yesterday. And though I do remember most every detail (as that day is forever engraved in my mind) I have decided that I don’t want to hang onto those memories anymore. I want to stop replaying that day in my head over and over again. Because it seems I’m really good at burying my past, I have forgotten some small details already, but I still remember that day better than any other day- including this very day…
It was dark as I headed to the car. The 6 of us stood there, at 4 in the morning, discussing the seating arrangement. Because all 6 of us had to fit in the small car, someone got (got? Who am I kidding! HAD) to sit in the front middle seat. You know the one that is as big as the armrest- pretty much equivalent to one butt-cheek? Ya, THAT one… So as you probably guessed, we all fought over NOT having to sit there. And because it seems like I always get the short end of the stick, I was assigned to the one-butt-cheek seat. Unable to defy Mom, I navigated to the so called “seat.” Longing for sleep, I laid on her lap.
For the first little bit we all slept, except Dad, of course. He was driving. Long before my tiredness had faded away, my younger brothers, Alex (8) and Bryton (5), decided sleep wasn’t for them. (An important thing to realize is that I’m NOT a morning person and lack of sleep makes me super cranky and easily irritated. I can get as grumpy as a gorilla about to be sedated. Trust me, I can turn into King Kong real quick.) So here I am at like 5 or 6 in the morning tried as crap, trying to sleep with one butt cheek on the seat and my head on my mother’s lap with my dumb, annoying, little brothers causing a ruckus in the backseat. I wanted to kill them to say the least! So for an hour or so, I grumpily fell in and out of sleep. Before I knew it, we were coming up on a little town, and Mom and Dad decided to stop at a little park to eat breakfast… Great.. I just wanted to sleep.
So we piled out of that uncomfortable, little car and we began to play on the roundabout as Mom set up breakfast. We were all enthused that this tiny town with a dinky park actually had a roundabout. We didn’t even have one of those in our town (explaining why we flocked to it as soon as we got out of that miserable car!) We all had a blast spinning round and round on that thing. That is until Louis and I ended up getting annoyed with Alex and Bryton (figures) and we ran to the swing-set.
As we swung, Louis must have noticed something in the dirt, because he started to dig directly below him. Sure enough, he uncovered a quarter. Then another one… And another one and another! He found several of them just lying in the dirt below his swing. Each one he gathered, I whined that I wanted one! I hurriedly scavenged through the dirt desperate to collect some for myself. But as luck would have it, I came up empty handed. My 12 year old self begged my almost 15 year old brother to share, but he wouldn’t have it. (Typical.) It was upsetting that my dumb brother was fortunate enough to find all those quarters lying right in front of his face and he wouldn’t even share one of them with me! He knows I’m the one who collects coins and won’t even pass up a free penny lying around. (I know how it adds up!) So, obviously, I was jealous of Louis and upset that he wouldn’t share with me.
Soon after my tantrum, Mom called us for breakfast. I got to sit by her, which was a big deal as we were always fighting over that. Luckily, my assigned seat at home was by Mom so I usually won that battle. But for some reason, I got to sit by her on our last meal together as well. As I ate my frosted flakes, Mom grumbled that she had left the rolls for lunch on the kitchen table at home. She wasn’t sure what to do for lunch. Who knew that she wouldn’t even make it to that point? That that was something she wouldn’t even have to figure out.
We finished breakfast and piled in the car again. This time was just to go to the bathroom. We had to backtrack to a gas station since the park didn’t have a restroom we could use. Mom forced me to sit up front again, which I threw a fit about, because I had already put my time in and it was somebody else’s turn! I grumpily rode to the gas station where we all headed inside.
They only had one stall so Mom and I went in together. I stood there talking with Mom as took a dump. (I know this is strange to include in my story, but I find it so weird that I was there when she pooped last. I also find it strange that the last thing she teaches me is a new technique she learned to help get your bowels moving. AND the fact that it’s actually something that has helped for the many years that have followed- without her even knowing.) I never would have guessed that that moment would be one of her lasts.
Soon we were all back in the car. This time, Alex was confined to the miserable, armrest “seat.” I sat behind Dad on the driver’s side, Bryton in the middle next to me and Louis on the passenger side. We all fiddled around for a little bit. Louis, strangely enough, kept playing with the seat belt and wrapping it around his leg. It turns out that stopping for breakfast had given us too much energy, but it didn’t last long. Soon everyone, but me, had fallen back asleep.
I sat there listen to music on my pink, Brat’s CD player. Bryton had moved to the floor to sleep. (I’m not really sure how he found that comfortable, but he did!) Louis had entitled himself to Bryton’s share and took over two-thirds of the backseat. Of course this left me with only a third of the backseat and nowhere to put my legs so I irritably curled up into a ball. I was too uncomfortable to sleep and grumpy because of it. Louis had taken my pillow (for some dumb reason he didn’t bring one.) And even though he had a comfy seat cushion to put his head already, he decided to take the only that could give me any comfort at this point. Resting my head against the hard, glass window wasn’t doing it for me. I figured I could steal my pillow back without him even noticing. But I was wrong. As soon as grabbed it, Louis jolted awake and screamed at me… I just wanted my pillow… We fought a little before Mom woke up to yell at me as well.
Mom was quite mad at me (probably because I disrupted her sleep and maybe she gets as grumpy as gorilla with little sleep too.) But just the thought of her disapproval was enough to truly upset me, especially because she told me to give MY pillow back to Louis. She sided with him, even though I was the one clearly getting gypped! He could have been comfortable enough to sleep just laying on the seat! But apparently it was all my fault and I was in the wrong.
I sat there fuming until I became consumed with anger. Why did he get to use MY pillow! It’s not fair! He already got to lay across most of the seat! How was I supposed to sleep curled up against door? It was so uncomfortable! If I just had my pillow then maybe I could sleep! Was that too much to ask for? I mean, that’s all I wanted: to sleep! Why couldn’t I sleep comfortably like everyone else?!? I couldn’t believe Mom sided with Louis! She yelled at ME! I wasn’t even trying to cause a problem! I really thought he would just sleep through it!
I angrily glanced around at all the calm, sleeping bodies longing to do the same. I looked at Louis, who had started it all.
“Why couldn’t you just let me have my pillow?!” I thought.
“I hate you, Louis!”
I glanced at Mom, “And you too, Mom!”
“I wish you would die!” I thought as I glared at them.
Turning my focus to Dad, I added,” And you too Dennis!”
And with that, I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
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