Posted by: shelliejelly | June 19, 2008

Dear K.

I remember the phone call like it was yesterday. I was sleeping, unaware for the time that you weren’t next to me, though you hadn’t planned to be. When I left you after dinner, feeling sick, you told me you were going to go stay with your Mom and Dad, catch up, laugh, talk. “I know my mom misses me,” you said, wandering somewhere between how nice it is to be missed and how much you’d miss me. “Promise me you won’t walk home,” I answered, turning toward my car.

Your father’s voice was unmistakable, even with my eyes still closed. He started speaking and didn’t stop until he’d gotten it all out, until he’d said exactly what he needed to tell me: “Michelle, I am afraid I have some bad news. K. was hit and killed this morning.” He didn’t take a breath, and I don’t know that I did either. I was half off of our bed, one hand on the floor trying to steady myself when I answered the call. All I remember is screaming. It’s true what most people say about unexpected tragedy, the only thing you can think to scream is no, over and over and over and over until, like a skipping record, your brain jolts you forward by an impossibly small distance, breaking the repetition.

“I have to call my mom,” I told him, hanging up.

The details are clear. I can still see the green phone hanging on the wall in the too-dark brown kitchen. I reached for the receiver and dialed, not stopping to think how I would tell my parents you had died. Like your dad, I couldn’t think of a better way to put it, so I was blunt, to the point and hysterical when my mom answered, her voice still groggy with sleep. “K. was killed this morning,” I stuttered, the words burning my tongue as I spoke them.

Those five words independent of one another are benign and full of potential. Strung together as they were that morning, my life met it’s first end stop. Everything had changed.

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