As a teenager, I realized growing up wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, cliche; I know. It wasn’t so much the work that bothered me but more so, the deep, overwhelming, bitter feeling of loneliness, it crept up on me when I least expected it, and that included the safest place a person can be, their own home. I still remember the moment it happened. Though, admittedly, it is a bit of a blur. Bits and pieces remain of the memory. I think the mind works that way; it chooses what it wants to remember. And often, what remains of painful experiences is only fragments of the damage that was done, like a sticky, syrupy sweet liquid that lingers in the back of your throat. However, I’ll never forget the pit I felt when I heard those words. The air that was sucked out of my lungs and the scream that would soon follow.
I heard the phone ringing. Not mine, my mother's. I tried not to think anything of it, but deep inside me, anxiety was bubbling up. I heard my mother talking to someone. I couldn’t hear the conversation; she had locked herself in the bathroom. I waited in my room as a lump was forming in the back of my throat. I nervously fiddled with my bed comforters as an attempt to ease my anxiety. The colorful pink flower print fabric glistened as I ran it across my fingertips. Eventually, after about 10 or so minutes, I guess the exact time doesn’t really matter. My curiosity overtook me, and I rose from the bed. I couldn't quite explain it, even to this day, but some unknown force pulled me to her. I walked over to the bathroom and tried to listen in on the conversation. It was quiet. The white door to the bathroom slowly opened, and I saw my mother, phone in hand, just staring blankly.
“It’s not good--” She held her head down as if she was trying to shield the secret from me. Her black curly hair covered her face and her white pajamas hung delicately onto her petite figure. What I was wearing at the time is a blur, but for the sake of giving an image, let’s say I was wearing pajamas too. However, what I do remember is the date and time it happened. It was a Friday, a Friday night. 6 PM on a Friday, to be exact.
“What’s not good?” I already knew the answer.
She looked at me with dark amber eyes. Behind her calm maple almond windows, there was a black hole.
“I can’t tell you-” She finally gasped. She held her hand to her mouth.
Even though I already knew the answer, I needed to hear her say it.
“Mom, just tell me what happened.” I cooed as an attempt to ease her nerves.
Her hand lowered, and she took in a shaky deep breath.
“Your dad---” She was losing her grip now.
My breath froze as I braced myself for the answer.
But my mind was rushing a mile a minute.
“He will recover.”
I told myself.
“You talked to him on the phone just yesterday.”
Trying to confirm my original thought.
“--- He’s dead.”
My mom finally croaked out, shattering the fantasy in my head.
Mentally, I thought I had prepared for this.
In truth, the thought of him actually passing away had never crossed my mind. I always made up excuses, but in this one moment, the only thought I had was sheer terror.
“Wh--” I tried to say, but the words came out like a soundless puff of hot air.
My heart plummeted, and I stood there, observing my reality instead of living it.
Then came the scream-
“Why...WHY?!” was the only thing I could ask. I knew my mom didn’t have an answer. The words spilled like a bleeding wound, out upon their own accord.
“I’m so sorry, honey...” She reached out her snake-like arms in an attempt to comfort me.
I pushed her away.
“It’s not fair.” I thought to myself.
“Why did he have to die?”
“It has to be a mistake,”
“He can’t be dead.”
“He can’t be…”
As if to cut off my thought pattern, she tried to hug me again.
I gasped, trying to catch my sporadic breath.
My mom looked at me with a twinge of pain in her eyes.
I’ve never yelled at her before.
“Okay.” Her arms lowered in defeat, and a bubble of tears formed in her eyes.
The tears weren’t for my dad.
Letting out a sigh, I turned my back to her.
I wanted to scream. I wanted to kick. I wanted to do everything but just stand there like some statue.
But I couldn't--
I shot her an icy glare.
In truth, I was bitter with her,
for leaving him…
I walked outside to try to gather some fresh air.
Faintly, I could hear the birds singing in the background. What were they singing for?
The cars zoomed by like distorted rainbows.
My breath, scattered, like a jet engine crash landing.
The watercolor orange sun peeked behind the desolate city buildings like a sunset in the African Savanna.
People walked, where were they walking too?
The cool autumn breeze caressed my skin.
I didn't shiver.
A couple was going out to eat.
A man was celebrating his promotion at work.
Another heading to work.
I was alone.
I reached for my phone in my pocket.
I wanted to text my boyfriend.
Well, an ex-boyfriend. He broke up with me a week prior.
No, that wasn't what I wanted to say.
“My dad just died.”
“How are you?”
I waited anxiously for a response.
It never came.
I blankly looked at my phone screen.
All I saw was my shadow.
And for the first time in my life, I truly wept.
There is something positive to get out of all this, though.
It didn’t happen on a Monday.