I woke up earlier that morning than I usually would have. I was 16 – and had been for two whole days – and it was summertime; sleeping in until noon and staying out as late as my parents (or my friends’ parents) would allow was the norm. But a friend and I were headed out of town for a three-on-three basketball tournament… for the social aspects, of course.
We spent the morning and part of the afternoon walking the streets, watching different teams play, checking out the guys and flirting with whom we could. We cheered for friends and siblings, rooting them on through the tournament.
I don’t remember it being particularly hot out that August day, but it must have been. It always is in August. I just remember a sick feeling in my stomach that wasn’t quite nausea and wasn’t quite cramps. I shook it off and tried to ignore it, and by the time we left town for home it was the last thing on my mind.
The house was different when I got home. The atmosphere was… off. And I really didn’t like the way my mom was looking at me.
She told me to sit down. The next few minutes have since been wiped from my memory but I know, more or less, what was said.
I’m shaking as I type this.
She told me my dad was on his way to surprise me for my birthday that morning when he got into a car wreck. She told me he didn’t make it.
I remember running through the living room, the kitchen, down the stairs to my bedroom. Some time later, I remember sitting on my bed, tears running wildly down my face so fast it was pointless to wipe them away, staring at the destruction that once was my bedroom. Now it was just a disaster.
Then I remember hearing the front door open and mumbled voices and feet sprinting across the house, down the stairs, into my room. It was a good thing she was a bit of a runner, because as soon as she’d gotten home from dropping me off from our excursion earlier that day, she and her mom got the phone call from my mom at home. And she ran to my house. She held me.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. I lost my breath yesterday when I realized it’s been six and a half years. Six and a half years later and I still have trouble sometimes accepting he’s gone.
Six and a half years later and I feel like I should be over it, like I should be able to talk about him and remember him and like I shouldn’t be rehashing that day like this. Six and a half years later and I still struggle with feelings of denial, rage, guilt and depression. Not every day, not even every week, but it’s there.