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I stopped in the middle of the street and drew in a deep breath. "Where am I going?" I asked myself. I glanced at my watch, still walking, and noticed with a shudder that it was already past midnight. "Time flies when you're having fun," I muttered, my voice filled with a surprising sarcasm. I turned the corner of 54th street, and glanced down the block. No one. Part of me wished that someone would have been there, someone who would question me and demand that I go straight home. But I knew that if I went back, I'd be right where I started. And I'd promised myself progress this night.
Maybe I wouldn't be able to get away, the odds of that happening were clearly against me, and I was aware of it, but every moment I could be free from the problems was one more I could cling to. Suddenly, a car pulled up next to me, the headlights blinding me momentarily. I glanced inside to see Micha sitting at the wheel.
"Get in," she said. I crossed to the passenger side and got in, without objecting, due to the fact that I knew it was too late to be defiant. And I was too tired. I braced myself for what was to come next, but my older sister said nothing. She put her car into gear, and pulled away without a word.
We drove in silence, the only noise being her deep breathing and my short, shallow sighs. I realized just how far I had walked, as we drove to my house- at least 5 miles. When we reached our house, I looked at it, as if I was seeing it for the first time in my life- the old fashioned porches, the balcony, the huge, beautiful windows. I stayed in the car, as did Micha, neither of us making an attempt to move as she commented on the grass needing cut, and the mess the neighbors had made in the front yard. I heard her, but I wasn't listening- I was merely staring ahead of me, debating if I should get out and run inside or try to justify my actions.
"Micha..." I began, but she cut me off short.
"Go get some sleep," she said dryly, "We'll talk in the morning." I got out of the car, leaving her in the car as I briskly ran up the walkway.
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"Essays on Death and Suicide - Grieving the Loss of My Mother." 123HelpMe.com. 29 Feb 2020
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I woke up late the next morning, too late for school, I realized before I remembered it was Sunday anyway. The events of the previous night unfolded in my minds as I laid in my bed. Actually, it all happened the last Christmas, when my father left and we had moved from St. Paul to Baltimore, leaving behind my friends, everything I knew. I thought I'd adjusted fairly well, considering my naturally shy nature. I'd managed to make a few friends, and I poured myself into my schoolwork and my poetry. Then on March 21st, everything fell apart.
I came home from school to an empty house, figuring my mother had gone off on some errands, or to visit a friend, and let myself inside. I entered the kitchen, expecting to see her usual note on the countertop or taped to the refrigerator. 'Michelle and Micha," it would always say, "I'll be home soon- I just had to pick up a few things- Don't eat much junk before dinner! Love, mom." To my surprise, the only thing on the bar was a coupon for muffins and an earring I'd left there that morning. "Maybe she's running late," I thought to myself, so I grabbed a pear from the fruit bowl and started to my room.
The phone rang. I turned back, grabbed my cordless phone from the base, and pushed "Talk".
"Hello, Wilson Residence" I said, wondering why I'd always been instructed to answer calls like that, and why I still did it when nobody was around. It was Micha, and I figured she was just calling to tell me she was at Stacey's house, or going to the mall, or something. Then I realized she was crying.
"I'm at the hospital," she said, "Uncle Mark is on his way to get you. Mom was in an accident this afternoon- she's in pretty bad shape." I dropped the phone and let it lay, and I could hear my sister call my name, eventually giving up and slamming the phone down. I heard a car beep, and I went outside.
The rest of the day passed as a blur. They had my mother on life support, but nothing could help her. She was pronounced dead at 7:24pm. I didn't cry, I couldn't. I just sat, being comforted by people I wasn't sure if I'd ever met. One woman kept reaching out, touching my arm, and asking if I was okay. It might have been a nurse.
"Shut up. Just shut up. Would you be okay if your mother just died?" I walked home that night, tired, cold, and scared.
"A lot like last night," I thought to myself, bringing myself back to reality and forcing myself to sit up in bed. But I wasn't ready to go downstairs, not yet, because I knew that there would be questions waiting for me, some I'd be able to answer, others I didn't know.
I sat at my vanity, pulling a brush through my long, straight, black hair and studying my face. People always said I looked like my mom- and they were right. I had her soft, green eyes and deep dimples along with her crooked smile. Persuading myself to find Micha, I walked downstairs and looked for her in the kitchen.
As I had guessed, she was at the table with a mug of tea and the newspaper. I didn't speak, and she didn't either until she caught me looking questioningly in her direction. For the second time that day, she simply told me to sit down. I got myself a cup of tea and did as I was told, and I could see her trying to figure out what to say.
"Chelly," she said, "I dunno what happened last night. I don't care to. But all I know is that I can't mother a 15 year old anymore. I hope you understand how hard I've tried. You know I've tried, right?"
"Yes, I know that." I knew, deep down, that she really had given her all to keep us together. "But Micha.. What are you saying?"
"You're moving in with Uncle Mark and Aunt Tabitha next month. He told me at the funeral that we were always welcome to go to them if the need be. Its time. I have to go back to the university, I'm getting too far behind. Please don't be mad."
"What? Micha.. they live in Alabama! There's no way I am going there," I exclaimed, "I won't know anyone! Can't I just stay here?"
Micha sighed. "I had a feeling you'd react like this, but no, you can't stay here.. It's not fair to you or to me.. After you graduate you can come back but for now this is the best thing for us both." I ran up into my room while she was in the middle of her sentence and slammed the door. For the next 3 days, I cried practically nonstop- first about the loss of my mom, and then about my move. I had never been so unhappy.
Looking back now, two months later, I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. After my move, I spent the first weeks trying to get settled in Florence, in the spacious ranch house my uncle owned. It wasn't home to me yet, just a dark, cold house. I tried to make friends, and as soon as I met Jennifer I knew I had succeeded. As we sat in my room one night after a football game, she picked up the framed photograph of my mother that sat on my bedside table, and laughed.
"What's so funny?" I asked her.
"Oh nothing.. you just look a lot like her. I thought it was you at first but then..."
I glanced at the bottom where she had hand-printed August 19, 1998. That would have been just months before she had died. Looking at the picture, I remembered the day it was taken, in the zoo in Baltimore where we'd gone on vacation. I giggled, recalling the goats that snatched the bag of popcorn right out of her hands, and the way she'd shrieked.
Practically reading my mind, while the memory of the morning I sat at my vanity filled my thoughts, Jennifer said to me that I had her smile. It was then that I realized that just because she'd died, it was no reason to think she was gone. I still had part of her with me, no matter what.