Monday, November 28, 2005
Twenty Years Ago
November 27, 1985 - I am twelve years old. School has been let out early for Thanksgiving and I am running to get out of the cold and on to the school bus. The wind is whipping my unbuttoned coat behind me like a cape and I feel as though I could fly in my excitement. Reginna is coming home.
I was the baby of four and Reginna was the oldest. There was almost twelve years between us, so she always seemed more like a really cool second mom instead of a sister. Once, when I was four, she made me a snowman in a cake pan and brought it inside to me because I was
sick and couldn't go out to play. She bought me things for no reason. She took me places with her. She encouraged my interest in art and talked to me about God. She was funny and brave. She fought with the boys...and sometimes won! We were so close she gave me the nickname Shadow.
At eighteen she ran off and married a guy my parents couldn't stand and I didn't see or hear from her for a long time. When we finally reconnected she was different. Although I didn't know it at the time, her husband had been abusing her, emotionally and physically. After five years, she got up the courage to leave him and started a new life in Fayettville, Arkansas. I still didn't get to see her often, but we wrote each other weekly. In the summer of '85 her divorce was final and the old Reginna began to find her way back. In September of that year she had been home to visit. She talked my parents into letting me cut school to go home with her for a week. We went swimming and ate at McDonald's. It was a week I will never forget. In October she was home for my twelfth birthday and brought me a fuzzy blue and white throw with a unicorn on it. I was crazy about unicorns! It cost her about $30 and she had to put it in layaway to get it for me. In November she was coming home for Thanksgiving.
That day was the day before and it was really, really cold. The forecast predicted freezing rain. She called us that night after she got off work to say she was on her way. My dad begged her to wait until the next day...the weather was looking bad. But she was headstrong. "Dad, I'm a big girl," she said. "I'll be fine." We waited nervously. Two hours should have been sufficient time for her to arrive, but she didn't show. We waited more. Three hours passed and we heard sirens. I was sitting on the couch snuggled under my unicorn blanket when Dad put on his coat and left the house to look for her. I was sure he'd find her and bring her home. Looking back, I can't even imagine the agony my mother was going through. When he finally came home, he was with a policeman. He took my mother in his arms as she started to collapse and said, "We've lost our daughter." She screamed and my dad turned to me. I ran to my room. Reginna was only minutes from home when she lost control of her car on an icy bridge and was hit by a semi. She died instantly.
That moment in my life devestated me. To date it is the most painful event I have experienced. Yesterday was twenty years and my heart still aches for her. At the time it seemed that life should not go on without her, but somehow the world didn't stop. I look at my children and am sad for the aunt they will never know. I look at my parents and grieve for their loss. I look at my family, forever fragmented by her leaving, and wish her back every day. I look at my life and long for the relationship we would have had as adults. I miss her...even now. Today I cry for her, and feeling that pain somehow brings her close to me again.