I waited as she had her conversation with the plumber. It lasted for a long time. I breathed through it and held it together and held it together as I felt anger starting to burn while I waited and gasped.
“OK, what’s up?” she said.
“Meliah was killed in a car accident.”
I found myself using everything I had to get the words out, “I don’t think I can say it again. I can’t get a hold of Chris. I need him. Can you call him or his work or try to find him. I can’t do it right now.”
“OK. Do you want me to call his work?
“Yes, just look up the number,”
“OK, I’ll go and do that right now.”
I got off the phone with her and sat in my car looking out of the front window. My sister had been one of those students moving into one of those dorm rooms a few years ago. Now the people milling about seemed like they were ants and I was seeing them from an airplane. My phone buzzed and I looked down at the text from Chris. It said, “In a meeting. What’s up?”
I texted back, “Meliah’s dead.”
Then I turned the car around and started to drive home. I needed to get out of that parking lot. If I concentrated I could make it home. I was only about 3 minutes away.
My phone rang, it was Chris “What happened?”
I shrieked to him what happened not able to control my voice. “She didn’t stop at the flashing yellow light, her work van was hit by a truck. And the baby…the baby.”
He told me to pull over and he was coming for me. Zoe was still asleep and I pulled over at a drop-off zone and idled in front of the University Football Stadium. All I had to do was hold it together for 10 minutes. I worked on keeping my mind blank and not screaming for her and her baby. When Chris arrived he got me out of the car and he helped me over to a wall that we sat on. I folded over into his lap and cried, just letting it all out, not holding it together anymore. There was a tall guy nearby who was looking at us, concerned. I wondered if he knew that this was a lost-someone cry. No adult cried like this in public unless they had just found out that they lost someone.
Back at the house, not sure how many hours or minutes later…I lay on the bathroom floor. It was cool and clean and it felt good to lie on something hard. Lisa came over. She was pregnant too, only a month behind my sister and she lay down on the bathroom floor next to me despite her belly and hugged me. Everything was different now. I didn’t know that life shifted so after a tragedy, but it does. As I lay there I saw in my head, my family and I were on a raft on a river. Meliah had been dropped off on the side of the grassy bank. We were being carried rapidly away from her. I looked at her on the side in the increasing distance and didn’t know when, or if I would ever see her again. I wanted to jump off and run to her but I knew I couldn’t. She is so far back there now…a year away. I still don’t know for sure if I will ever see her again. Even if I have the strongest religious beliefs, the one thing I do know for sure, is that I will never know for sure. Just like I can’t go back and make a phone call to stall her for just a minute to let that truck go by. My words that help me now when my brain starts trying to change past with scenarios that would save her, is, “What’s done is done.” I say the words over and over in my head to replace the scenarios that drive me crazy…because what’s done is done.