I refuse to deal with death. In the seventh grade, I lost a classmate. During a football mini camp, my schoolmate since the first grade, drowned. For the first time in my life, death severed my heart. I didn't know what to do and up came my wall.
"Smith Hospital, May I help you."
"Hey Mimi, this is daddy." My father spoke very gently. Mimi was my nickname.
"Hey daddy," I said. I did not find it unusual for my family to call me at work. Most of the time, its me calling them 2 to 3 times to check on Jay.
"I have some bad news." he said.
My body grew tense. It had to be my grandfather. No, No, No! Was it Mama? What has happened to her? She was fine earlier. Oh God no!!! It can't be Jeremy. All of these fleeting thoughts ran through my mind so quickly.
"There's been an accident involving your sister." The words seemed to drag out of his mouth.
"She didn't make it."
"NO daddy, NO!" I dropped the phone. Laverne comes running from the ER.
"Michele, what's wrong?"
I was speechless. I automatically went into the world of disbelief. This could not be happening. Not once, did I ever consider my sister to be the one to yield such a furor of discomfort. I quickly grab the phone again.
"Where's Jay?" I said trembling.
"He's here." said daddy.
"She is upstairs."
Laverne is still trying to find out what is going on. I hear her but then again, I don't. Right now, I can't hear anything. I have scared her. She has called for Cynthia, the ward clerk, and Stephanie, the RN, to assist her. Laverne takes the phone out of my and hand and begin to converse with my father. I really don't remember much after that. Somehow, I managed to call my best friend and her husband answered the phone.
"Hello," said Danny.
"Danny, I need for you or Tia to go pick up Jay. My sister has been killed."
"What !?," exclaimed Danny.
"Just go and get him NOW!" I shouted.
"Michele, what is going.....,"
I had already hung up. Cynthia takes me to my parent's home as Stephanie followed close behind. I sat in the car rocking and telling myself, none of this is true. I had to get to Jeremy. He could not enter this realm of disbelief. As I'm guided into my parent's home, my grandmother and my brother were in the kitchen. I stood and looked at my grandmother. There was one tear drop still lingering on her face. My brother was already there in that domain of disbelief with me.There were no emotions displayed on my brother's face. His clothes were wrinkled and really needed a haircut. I move pass both of them, not saying a word looking for my son.
"Jeremy," I call out.
Still no answer.
I briskly returned to the kitchen.
"With Mama and Daddy," my brother said without looking at me.
"Where's Mama and Daddy?"
"At the hospital," my grandmother interjected.
I panicked. They couldn't have taken Jay with them to the hospital. His seven year old body was going to freak. I had to get out of this house and rescue my child. Cynthia and Stephanie takes me to the hospital. I can't remember how I got beyond the South GA Medical Center ER doors, but I was there. My mother's brother and his wife were standing in the hallway with somber faces.
"Where is Mama and Daddy?" They pointed to the room directly across from them.
I walked in. Mama is to my left, sitting in a chair, repeatedly saying, "Not my baby, not my baby." My father is standing directly in front of me. I look him straight in the eye.
"What happened?" Those were the only two words I could get out at the moment. I briefly forgot that I was in search of my son.
Slowly, but openly, my father said, "Your sister was hit by a drunk driver. She had Bart with her and apparently they were heading home. Bart is in intensive care."
Bart was one of my sister's best friends.
A man walks into the room. I don't know who he was, but my father tells this man that I'm his daughter.
"Where is Coot?" I asked.
My father looks at me strangely, "Mimi, your sister is gone."
"No she's not, you're making it up."
My father moves closer to me to try to comfort me. My mother is still sitting, now saying, "No Mimi, no."
The strange man ask the nurse to bring something in for me to take, to calm me down.
I looked at him. "Has he lost his mind? There is nothing wrong with me." I thought.
The nurse enters the room with a white pill and tries to give it to me. I looked at her and I told her that I didn't want that pill. The strange man comes over to me and tries to reason with me about the pill.
"I'M NOT TAKING THAT PILL!" I said sternly. My father tells this strange man that I'm not going to take it and he finally abandoned the idea of me taking the pill. As I moved around in the room, I froze. There on the floor, under a counter, was my sister's pocketbook. Exactly like mine. We both purchased the pocketbooks together because we fell in love with them. I had to leave the room. Then I realized, I still did not have Jay.
"Where is Jeremy?" I don't remember who told me, but I found out that he was with my best friend at her home. I had quickly forgotten that I had called their home and made that request. I left the hospital with Cynthia and Stephanie enroute to Tia's house. Upon arrival at her house, Tia led me to the bedroom where Jeremy was asleep. I picked him up and held him so close to me. There was nothing to break through our bond. Nothing was said between Tia and I. We made eye contact and everything was understood.
The next day I did not go to work. I was teaching in Brooks County. I took Jeremy to school and explained to his teacher what had happened over the weekend. She understood completely. Just 2 weeks before, her brother had committed suicide. I made the lonely journey back home. I had NOTHING to do. The laundry was already done, the dishes were clean, my house, for once, was actually in order. I can't do this another day. Jeremy's teacher never called. Apparently, he didn't have any problems at school that day. I wanted everything to be normal for him, but I wanted him to need me also. Instead, I needed him. I called my school and spoke with my principal. I told Mrs. Lewis that I wanted to come to work the next day. I did not want anyone to say one word to me about the accident. Everything had to be as close to normal. She agreed to take care of that for me. Jeremy rode the bus in the afternoons to my parent's home. I made sure everyday of that week, I picked him up as soon as he got off the bus.
I went to work the next day and nobody said a word except a couple of students. I could see the desire in my co-workers' eyes to reach out to me. But I wouldn't let them. At the end of the day, I sat in my office. I had made it through the day. I was processing my thoughts, when my principal walks through my open door. WHY didn't I close that door? Too late now. She sat down in a chair beside my desk and handed me a poem. She told me to read the poem and let her know if she could do anything else to help me. Mrs. Lewis stood up and turned towards the door. I never said a word. I glanced up at her and gave a reassuring nod. She left. Not once, throughout this ordeal, did I cry. After a couple of days, my brother came over to my house. He wanted to talk to me about my parents and the funeral. I had shut out the whole world with the exception of my son. I did not see nor talk to my parents since that dreaded night. Ronald tried to convince me to go over and see our parents. I refused! I did not want to be around people moping. I know there were people in and out of my parent's home. What could they do for me? My brother was also trying to convince me to attend the funeral. My mind was made up, I wouldn't be there. He decided to give up for now. I had people to call my house and some to stop by to plea my parent's case. I guess no one could figure it out. I WAS NOT COMING! Friday was here, the day of the service. My best friend begged and pleaded with me to attend the service.
"Tia, I don't want to see anyone crying. I don't want to get dressed. And I'm definitely not riding in those cars!" I said very sternly.
"Michele, if I have to drag your butt there, you are going!" she said without missing a beat.
Tia and I had never raised our voices at each other.
"Danny and I will be there to pick you up. You better be ready!"
Well, I didn't want to lose my best friend, so I got ready. We arrived at the church and I let all the other people go in the church first. I just assumed to stand in the back, better yet, out the door. Somebody spotted me, and beckoned me to come in. I had no choice. Tia was heavy on my heels. They saved me a seat on the very first pew. Who told them to do that? They didn't know if I was going to show up. I'm really angry now! I sat through the service not shedding a tear. My father gave the eulogy. He is a brave and strong man. My mother is sitting at the end of the pew, weeping silently. I'm thinking, will this ever be over with.
Coot, how could you do this to us? This dream is not getting any better. I'm sick of all the theatrics. Why are you hurting mama that way? What has she done to you? Look at daddy, trying to be strong. Telling everyone that you were his rose that haven't had a chance to fully bloom. Granddaddy is just sick with grief. You know he always got a good laugh off of your antics. You were his twenty-four year old baby. Who is going to keep Ronald straight? You know he can get woman crazy and you're the only one that is straightforward with him. My son Jeremy looks like Ronald. Ronald's daughter, Victoria, looks like you. Did you forget that he named his daughter after you? Where is your child? The one that is suppose to look like me! Who is going to come over and clean my house from top to bottom? Why didn't you let that drunk die? Do you know that he came out with only a couple of scratches and THAT'S ALL? Even Bart is going to make it. WHY COULDN'T YOU!!! Whenever I do get married, who is going to be my maid of honor?
The pallbearers are now taking the casket out. As the people are exiting the building, I stand. LORD, I'M READY TO WAKE UP NOW!
Michele L. James