I can feel it in my soul. I feel it everywhere.
That date on the calendar that I absolutely dread.
July 14th. It’s just a date. Nothing special, but to my family it’s the day everything changed.
Even if I don’t acknowledge it, my heart remembers. And it’s hard.
It’s the day my mother and brother died. It’s the day someone ran a stop sign and took half my family away. The difference a second makes still boggles my mind.
My sister was on life support in hospital. She died two days later.
I never got to say goodbye.
An ordinary Saturday that turned into the worst Saturday of my life and I never got to say goodbye.
As the date closes in, the memories come back. There is something about this time of year that brings it back. Summertime. Long days. Vacation. Sunshine. It’s odd.
I don’t dwell on what happened. Time does heal. You do learn to adjust to the new reality. God has worked in my life in a very big way and I’m so thankful for the healing over the years. It’s not something I see as my identity anymore. It doesn’t have the same power over me like it did.
But that date has a way of taking me back to the day it happened 29 years ago. To the minutes leading up to finding out the worst. To the 18-year-old girl in her room listening to Madonna on cassette, after setting the table for the dinner they had gone to pick up. Stopping it halfway through a song, wondering what was taking so long.
Looking out the back window and seeing the flashing lights.
The phone rang. News was, our car was in an accident.
Seconds later, the sound of the police car racing into our gravel driveway. My dad running out of the house, and collapsing at the side of the car, before they took him away.
The waiting. The hours and hours of waiting.
Sitting at the table set for six. Playing solitaire. Waiting.
Family members started to show up. My aunt, my great uncle, a cousin.
Then, THE phone call, from my dad. “Mom is gone. Mom died. Kyle died.”
I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t think. I didn’t know what to do.
I ran outside and stared at the sky. The stars. The moon.The emptiness.
My cousin had followed me out, and held me as I cried and cried.
It was too much. It was such a shock. It couldn’t be happening.
But the table was still set for dinner? I couldn’t even begin to understand. It didn’t make sense. This can’t be our reality.
We didn’t sleep that night. Nobody did. We stayed up and watched TV. Or pretended to, I guess. We played cards. In a daze. Numb.
More people came to the house.
All a blur.
Shopping for something to wear to the funeral. Picking out caskets and flowers.
All a blur.
Friends coming to console me.
All a blur.
Two days later – no sign of improvement for my sister. The decision was made to take her off life support.
I couldn’t breath.
The funeral was huge. Endless lines of people with apologies and sympathies expressed. People from everywhere. Endless lines of people. So many faces. With that look I will never forget. That look that reminded you of what was happening. That look of incredible sadness. That look you didn’t want to see when you were trying so hard to hold it all together.
And then it was over. People left.
We were alone in a house meant for six. Me, my dad and my brother.
All a blur.
It’s been 29 years. My dad is remarried. My brother and I have families of our own.
Life has been good to us. We are healthy and happy and love life.
But, when the calendar flips to THAT DAY – we remember. Every detail. Every sound.
As much as people might say “don’t dwell on that day”, it’s hard not to.
It was a day of extreme sadness.
It’s also a day that we remember. We remember just how lucky we were to have been part of that family of six for as long as we were. We remember how much fun we had. We remember all that was good. We remember just how many people were there for us in our time of need. Humbling.
I won’t stay broken and sad. But I may just keep to myself for a bit. I may just be a little more quiet and reserved. I may just seem to not want to be around anyone.
I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want anyone making a big deal of it. I just want to be alone with my thoughts and memories. Play Wind Beneath My Wings (a song that played at their memorial) and just acknowledge the day that changed our lives forever 29 years ago.
Grief is nothing to be ashamed of. If you are missing someone, don’t ever let anyone tell you to “get over it” or to make you feel like missing them is wrong. It isn’t.
My mom, brother and sister were my family. An important part of who I am. And they always will be thought of that way, and I will forever miss them and everything that we missed since the day they left us.