One of the most difficult days of my entire life was June 26, 2002. I got the call about 5:30 am, I was deep in slumber as I had to get up for work in a couple of hours. At the time I was a bill collector at a Jacksonville, FL third party collection agency. I answered the phone to find my sister hysterical crying saying to come over immediately, that my nephew had passed in his sleep. My heart stopped beating and I was stuck in what seemed like an eternity of the inability to breath. What? What do you MEAN he stopped breathing?
Obviously I was going to have a hard time talking to her, as she was distraught and unable to stop crying so I did what a sister is supposed to do, packed up my sleeping kids in the car and raced over. All I could do is cry for the entire 15 minute drive and when I arrived the ambulance was parked in front of the house. My brother-in-law had my sister in his arms and she was curled in a fetal position balling so hard she was nearly convulsing. I think this was one of the weakest moments of my life, as I had NO idea had to console my sister. I didn't know how to keep myself together.
The shock of his passing lingered and as my family began to gather at my sister's house in efforts to mourn his loss, and begin preparations for his viewing and funeral. My mom came and was, the saddest I had ever seen her. It was heart wrenching for myself, but even more so seeing the strongest woman I've ever known broken down and falling apart in front of me.
My mom was a single mom raising 2 girls. Me, the mouthy, strong minded and VERY big personality and my sister who struggled her whole life being in my shadow. We never really got along, but it was one of those situations where no one could mess with her but me. If anyone tried to fight her, hurt her or do her wrong, her big sissy came to her rescue and wasn't afraid of anyone or anything. No matter where our relationship was at the time of this call, I was going to be right at her side because that's what we do as family. My mom did a fabulous job raising us, and she RARELY showed a lot of emotion in front of us so to see her in this state broke my heart.
There came a moment when I realized that someone was going to have to step up, be strong and do the impossible, and I knew it had to be me. I had to make the arrangements to lay my beautiful nephew to final rest and iron out the details of his viewing and burial. I dried up the tears, put on my big girl panties and made all the final decisions to insure he had a beautiful memorial and a peaceful place to rest. I have NO idea how I managed to make it through, but I did.
The next step was to call family members and inform people we hadn't been in touch with or on good terms with, about the news and give them information about the funeral. A touchy relationship was with my father, and surprisingly he came. It was bitter sweet for me. This was the first time I had seen him in quite a long time, and the first and only time he'd meet his grandson. Watching my father play with him, and his restored relationship with his granddaughter gave me hope that he'd be a more active part of our lives. Unfortunately, I was wrong. But that's another blog.
What I failed to mention previously, is that my nephew was special needs being in a nearly fatal car accident at the age of 18months and having cerebral palsy. We had a bond that was unbreakable, and not even in death could that be torn apart. I miss him dearly, but know that he is in a better place. (wiping my tears writing this and thinking of some of our most special moments)
I share this with you, because THIS is a part of who I am, and this event is part of why I will ALWAYS fight for what I believe in and who I am. When he was alive, he forced me to look at myself and appreciate what I was so blessed to have. He loved me unconditionally, because he didn't know how not to. Remembering him forces me to realize that my dreams are still VERY much alive and never to stop reaching for them.
Thank you for taking this time to read, a piece into me.