I panicked. I should have known what to do, but instead I was frozen in fear. My dad was shouting at me to call 911 and even though I was almost eleven years old, I just couldn’t remember how. So instead, I traded places with him and I held my mother on the kitchen chair as he used the phone to desperately alert the help we needed.
I held my Mom upright in the chair and I was terrified. What was wrong with her? Why was she falling over and not responding to us? Could she hear me telling her how much I loved her and that I thought everything was going to be okay?
After a painfully long wait we finally heard the sirens of an ambulance as it pulled into our driveway. To this day, I feel a pit in my stomach when I hear an ambulance wailing.
The sounds of that night changed my life forever.
I can hear the murmurs of neighbors who had gathered outside in the dusk to watch the tragedy unfold.
I can hear the doors of a police car close me in as my dad, brother and I followed the ambulance to the hospital in shock.
I can hear the silence in the awful little room where sat and waited for news. It was small and sterile and soon held neighbors and a close friend who sat beside us.
And I can hear her words. The doctor who came into that room and told us the news… news that shakes me to the core even today.
“I’m sorry. We couldn’t save her.”
I can hear the crying of those who had gathered.
I can hear my thoughts as they flew through my head and swirled in confusion and painful, piercing shards of realization.
I try not to do it, but sometimes I hear the sound of my grandma wailing as she walked onto the front porch of our home a few hours later.
I can hear my grandpa crying. I didn’t like it then and don’t like to hear it now.
I can hear the sound of my dad talking through his sobs as he called family to deliver the awful and life-altering news. My mother had died suddenly at the age of 34 from a heart arrhythmia.
I can still hear it all. Even though it’s been 25 years.
25 years. How can that be?
Instead of being almost eleven years old, now I’m almost 36. My life has changed drastically since that night… and because of that night.
Time really does march on even when our worlds are rocked.
And though it’s been a long time, I haven’t forgotten the sounds or the emotions.
I haven’t forgotten her either.
In fact, I can still hear her sometimes too. It’s not as easy as I wish it was, but I can. I can hear her laugh and I can hear her voice.
I can hear the sound of the lid popping off the plastic tub as I open it and look through her things. I love to look at the pictures, flip through her Bible and open her purse.
I can hear the healing that comes as I tap on this keyboard and process this loss in my life… so many years later. It helps my heart to remember her.
It’s been 25 years since that awful night. My life has been changed forever because of all that I heard and saw on March 24th, 1989.
And as difficult and painful as it is to remember, I don’t want to forget.