Thief in the Night
It was a day and a night that I will carry with me to my grave. All four of us in the house were so very young that dreary fall morning. Moving myself into the bathroom to take a shower, I was fully prepared to go to my freshman class. Of course, that morning was health education: R.I.C.E., stretch before exercise, and remember the parts of the cell membrane even. The course material was quite easy, in fact, the majority of the time we simply drew the illustrations of what we studied which I rather enjoyed. In the blink of an eye, your world can truly turn upside down. One minute, you’re taking a shower in order to ready yourself for your daily classes and normal berating of fellow classmates because you’re a bit too pale, too quiet, and not the thin cheerleader type. In all honesty, I was used to that bit by now.
The air was different this morning and had I been more awake, I should have sensed it. The loss of someone I was so close to, we not only shared our deoxyribonucleic acid, but a bond of friendship. My father banged on the wooden door to the bathroom, urging me to hurry up because the ambulance was coming to get my mother. You see, she had cancer and a very nasty one at that. It literally ate at her entire being and she had suffered for so long. I had faith, though, that she would be well again. I mean, she was only 38 years old and very lovely. It had to be a dream, right? My dad banged on the door again, hurrying me. I was numb in the shower as the hot water poured over my back. I leaned against the shower wall and trembled. No longer was the shower water falling down my nose, but the trickle of salty tears.
I eventually snapped out of my stupor and grabbed a towel, wrapping it around my body to hurry to my room to attempt to get dressed before they got there. Apparently my dad had already called my aunt because the next thing I knew, she was picking me up from the end of my bed on the floor. She held me tight and told me I had to get dressed, hugging me tight in her arms. For the first time, I really felt as if she loved me that day. I do love her but my mind is always so full of doubt.
I did as she requested and put on something, I really don’t even remember what I wore that day. I wish I had taken just two minutes longer because the same time I walked out of my room, her body was being taken out on a gurney. The white sheet covered her small frame and I stood stunned, staring blankly at my mother. She was under there. Her body was right there. Why couldn’t she just wake up? Why didn’t she just wake up all of a sudden and say, “I just was sleeping really deep. I’m ok.” Why did it have to be this way?
Through my tears, anger, and frustration, I went to the place my dad sits and keeps important papers. Scrimmaging through the papers, I eventually found it. The day I lost my hopes. I see you and I see you’re nothing but a bunch of lies. I took my Christmas List with one thing on it: “For her to get well” and I ripped it to shreds, throwing it on the ground.
The rest of the day was mostly a blur. I went along to the funeral home and florist with my dad because he needed me as much as I needed him. The love he and my mother shared is something that I wanted. They had their fights but their love always won out. I held his hand and answered the questions. Together, we picked out a casket fitting for her. It was a rose-stained metallic casket with a rose embroidered on the fabric inside. She was like a rose: delicate, sweet, and absolutely beautiful–inside and out. At the florist, we picked out a spread of baby’s breath and deep red roses. The day may be dark for us but her love was still there and her funeral would show it through the colors of love.
The day was long and hard, the night was even worse. My baby brother was only nine years old at the time and very confused. Throughout that week, we were all very confused and distraught. It was a day that my life was forever changed from just being a daughter and a sister. I transformed into a sort of wife and mother as well. That was the morning I found myself, even in the hardest of times, wanting and vowing to protect my father and brother as much as I possibly could. I remember as I fell asleep that night crying horribly onto my pillow, holding it close because it had my mother’s scent on it, and asking God to show me some sign at all I would make it through.
That was the night I dreamed I was in the hallway, facing a gorgeous angel but it was my mother, and she didn’t say anything. I was drawn to her and she held me all night in that dream as I wept. That November morning was the hardest thing I had ever gone through and made me realize I was, in fact, no longer a child.