Friday, October 15, 2010

Memory Lane - My Pink Shirt

I was pretty young. 7, 8, 9 years old maybe?

The boy down the street died. He was in his 20s, very young, newly married I believe, and he had been in an accident at work. From my recollection, something about a machine being turned on and a piece of it flying out and lodging in his head. He never woke up. His poor parents and young wife had to make the decision to take him off life support.

This is the first funeral I remember going to.

After the fact, I tried to remember what I was wearing the day he died. I feel like it was my favorite shirt - it was like a pink baseball shirt over a long sleeve black shirt. It was very comfy, and I loved it.

Soon after, maybe it was months, maybe it was years, but I was about 10 years old, my best friend from my neighborhood's dad died in a horrible car accident. He was a police officer and had been traveling to drop off some documents and was hit by what I always thought was a car hauler. I guess I don't know for sure, as you only hear bits and pieces of things when you are 10.

From that day on, I won't drive anywhere near car haulers. They make me sick to my stomach.

I still sometimes see his dad's truck drive down my street.

I visit his grave site sometimes. I'm not sure why. He was a big piece of my childhood, I guess.

He scared the crap out of me.

I broke his garage window once with a basketball. I ran home, freaked out, and hid in the bathroom for hours. He came looking for me, and my grandma told him I had diarrhea. Embarrassing, yes, but it bought me some time! When my parents got home, they forced me to go down and apologize. I did, and he gave me a big hug and told me not to be afraid of him.

I used to think he would be my father-in-law someday. He even talked about it with my mom, how fun it would be for their kids to get married one day.

The day he died was one of the most traumatic days of my life. And to think, if I was that upset, I can't even imagine how his son felt.

His niece knocked on our door crying, and I swear she had said that my friend had died. It took me a minute to realize it was his dad. I was paralyzed. I walked with my mom next door as she went to tell the neighbors, and I stood there, trying to force myself to cry. It wasn't happening. I stood in my best friend's house, watching him sobbing on the couch, and I had no idea what to do to make him feel better. Watching his mom sobbing as she held him broke my heart. The funeral was one of the saddest I had ever been to. My friend's mom kept begging her husband to get up.

I finally cried.

On the day he died, I was wearing my favorite pink shirt.

Even at a young age, I had this obsession with numbers and symmetry and patterns. The first young man who died lived two houses from the corner. Two houses down from him, lived my best friend and his family.

So death was skipping a house.

I looked at what would happen next.

Two doors after my best friend was a very sweet older couple.

Two doors down from them was our house.

I couldn't let that happen.

So I did the only thing I could think of. I took my favorite shirt and tied it up in a plastic bag and through it up in my closet on the top shelf where I kept my stuffed animals.

I never wore it again.

When we moved from that neighborhood, I threw it away.

The pattern broke.

I'm not sure why I remembered this today.

It feels like just yesterday and our family was part of that amazing neighborhood, before everything fell apart.

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