Mama remained in the hospital for three weeks. Daddy walked in a daze. My older brother fought the emotions of the moment by busying himself with friends. I honestly don't remember what me and my sister did. I don't remember when we went home. I just remember the loneliness-the emptiness. The quiet-oh it was soooo quiet. No more was there a little boy running in and out of the house. It seems that time stood still.
I remember my first day back at school. I wasn't supposed to be there. Life was not supposed to go on. I hated the normalcy of it all. I hated that no one knew what to say, so they said nothing. I hated that we were still not all together and even when we were together, one was missing. I concluded that we would really never be all together again. Normal was not normal anymore.
Every night for what felt like an eternity, we were at the hospital. Our next door neighbors took care of us, and I grew tired of the jokes and the attempts to distract. I grew tired of the advice from everyone, "You need to cry," when I had cried all I could cry. Did they not know that I would love to be able to cry, to feel anything! All I felt was empty!
When Mama finally came home from the hospital, the house began to fill again with people. They meant well. At least it was no longer quiet, but they talked and laughed. I didn't like the laughter. How can you laugh when we've lost so much. My mama laughed and I thought, "How can you laugh?"
There were moments out of the blue when it would hit me-like the day I set the table for six. I dropped the fork and ran away in tears.
I wish we had all talked about how we were feeling. I guess we weren't supposed to "feel." I guess we weren't supposed to talk about it. I wish we had. My sister remembers very little about the years prior to the accident. She recalls little about her relationship with our brother. Was it so painful that she blocked it out or do all children forget their childhood? Was it because she wasn't allowed to "feel." My older brother and I have forever fought the demons of guilt and regret. Why, I do not know because we both adored him. Guilt often becomes an unnecessary load like an extra book in an already heavy book bag.
My baby brother's two best friends, neighbors down the street, would come to play. Mama would cry. When she could take it no more, she gave away the swing set, the tractor tire-made sandbox, and the merry-go-round. It was easier.
My older brother graduated high school and went to Trevecca Nazarene University in the fall. We were faced with another loss. A family of six was now a family of four. We all grieved. In my grief, there was anger. I missed my brothers. I missed my family. I missed my mama and daddy. They were not there-or so it felt. My Daddy was never there again. My hero, my idol was broken and I was unable to fix him. Mama shut down. In anger, I lashed out, "You aren't the only one hurting. I lost my baby. I'm hurting just like you are! You have two more children. I will be okay, but my sister needs a mama." That was a moment of awakening-for both of us. I will never forget what mama said, "Oh, no darling. You don't know what you are saying. I hope you never know how I feel. You lost a brother. I lost a child."
Mama was our strong one. In her pain, she raised her head, squared her shoulders and began to live again. Daddy began to preach again. God began to fill the void.
Children x 4-Family of six.