By Patricia LaPointe
You awaken to see the alarm clock with its bright red numbers. It’s 2:00 AM. You walk the halls and check each of your daughters’ rooms to be sure they’ve all returned home. One daughter is missing. You begin to worry, but remember she said she might be at Brian’s apartment.
As you return to your bed, the phone rings.
“Mom, an accident. Brian’s hurt. I only found his shoe…At the hospital…they won’t let me see him” your daughter, gasping for breath as she speaks.
You tell her to sit in the waiting room. You’ll be there soon.
As you drive to the hospital you wonder if your child was also hurt. You’re angry with yourself for not asking.
At the hospital, your daughter rushes to you. “Mom, we had a fight. He ran away. Hit by a car. I only found his shoe. They won’t let me see him.” She is hugging his shoe. You’re grateful that she doesn’t seem harmed.
A nurse takes you to his room. There are no sounds coming from the monitors still attached to his body. You look closer. It appears his neck is broken. Someone enters the room with a large black bag.
Your daughter runs to you when you return to the waiting room.
“Where is he? Is he OK? Did you talk to him? I have to go to him. I need to tell him I’m sorry.”
Before you can answer, you see out of the corner of your eye, a large black bag being wheeled down the hall. You grab your daughter and try to move her away from looking in that direction. No eighteen-year-old girl needs to see that.
It’s too late. She turns just as the black bag is passing by.
“Mom, that’s not him. It can’t be him. I have to tell him I’m sorry.”
Someone brings a bag with Brian’s belongings: a leather jacket and one shoe.
She is trying to run into the hall. You hold her back. She collapses, sobbing, on to the floor.
These are the last sounds she makes for the next three days as she lies in bed wearing Brian’s jacket and holding onto his shoe, much as she held her stuffed animals when she was younger.
At the wake, Brian’s parents angrily demand your daughter tell them how it happened. What were you arguing about? Why didn’t you stop him from running away?
You hear their questions and move to stand beside her. She tries to speak but is sobbing and shaking.
You understand their need to know these details, perhaps to have closure. So, you answer their questions, knowing that for your daughter, closure may never come.
© 2021 Patricia LaPointe
Pat LaPointe, editor of Changes in Life, a monthly online women’s newsletter, is contributing editor of the anthology, The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys from Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment. In addition, she conducts writing workshops for women — both online and onsite. Pat’s essays and short stories have been published widely. Currently, Pat is completing her first novel, forthcoming late 2021.