My eldest brother Jonathan, who was currently In Boston exploring his options with the military, could not believe the Journey we were about to embark on. Florida to Alaska is a pretty big leap, right? Just a twelve year old timid and freckle faced kid, I didn’t even know who I was yet, and now I was displaced from my element, to be thrown Into the elements. Sprays of cold seawater mist hit me in the face as a warm wind blew across the surface of the deep swaying water below and the smell of fish permeated the air. When the ferry docked, I remember saying, “Oh my God Ma, where are we? Man. Where In the hell are we? You guys have to be kidding right now right. ” My brother snapped. Only fifteen at the time, he had a bold tongue as well as a strong desire to be a big fish in a big ocean, making Kodiak very undesirable to him. My Mother being the positive person she is, smiled at me and my brother and said, “Kids, enough negative. We are finally here and it’s been a long Journey. As long as we have each other we will be just fine. ” uncomforted by her optimism we had no choice but to continue on into our new Alaskan lifestyle.
While exploring the island, David and I discovered the sweet ripened Salmon berries and Russian berries scattered In the bushes alongside a meandering river. The rivers were flooded with fish and the grand mountains were so close and majestic that we could not find the words to describe them accurately. I think both David and I both savored those days. That summer, the last magical summer of my life was short lived and September eventually took Its place with chilling gusts funneling through the Spruce trees, and a new school year in a new school.
I began seventh grade and found it difficult to make friends, or to feel like I had a voice amongst this crowd of people, so different than I. I looked to David for comfort, but he would usually shut me down In his typical Southern slang, “Get over it. You sound like a lame. You don’t want to be a lame do you? ” Never understanding the full impact of his words until today, I pushed on and One day my eldest brother Jonathan called from Boston to ask if he could come and live with us. “l am sorry mom. The military thing Just wasn’t for me. He sounded so ashamed of himself because this was supposed to be his plan, a goal my parents wanted him to reach. Never the less my mother agreed to let him come and be with us. As I mentioned my Mom is very optimistic and positive, and Jonathan seemed comforted when she told him, That’s alright baby. The world works in mysterious ways. Maybe you were meant for another opportunity here, a better opportunity. ” A calm soul like my mother, Jonathan seemed to balance us all out. He was a musical person and his talent was noteworthy.
I will always remember how he used to sit debatable, picking his bass guitar as the family finished our meals, and settled into our chairs to listen. The sweet twang of the chords he stroked soothed us effortlessly through the rest of the evenings. David and Jonathan were inseparable at this point. You would never see one thou the other, and even though they were complete opposites of each other, they meshed well, sharing a bond that I will probably never fully understand. Although our family was now complete, life cannot always be ideal can it?
It was not long before David, being the mischievous person he was, dropped out of high school. He and Jonathan decided to move into an apartment together, living a life UN-governed by parents and free from organization. I felt lost and without them at home. Throughout my entire life, they had been my role models, my inspiration and my voice, and now I felt empty. My house felt empty also. Their room across the hall was dark and stale, the door pulled closed almost completely, and the black curtains blotted out the grey hue of the winter sky outside.
Our dinner table, room enough for five now sat three. Night after night we struggled to find engaging conversations, like the ones that had come so easy when the family was whole, pushing our food around our plates, never to be soothed again by the sound of Jonathans ministering bass guitar, or listen to Davit’s dreams of taking over the world. Little did I know those sweet memories would be cherished for a lifetime. I was awoken one night by the sound of my mother crying out. Crying out like I have never heard in my life.
An animal cry that broke down the hall and seemed to bounce off of the back door and find its way back to me, hurdling me out of the tranquility of my covers. Curious but hesitant, I slowly moved my door open. The creaky hinges did not halt my mother’s bellowing as I moved around the corner to find her sitting in the dark hallway, swaying her arms back and forth as she cried, “No No No! It can’t be! ” Behind her stood a Police Officer, shinning a flashlight down the hall freezing me eke a deer caught in the headlights, setting in the feeling that something was terribly horribly wrong.
I turned my head to shield my eyes from the flashlight that broke up the dark space between my mother and me, when I saw my dad standing behind me. He held his cheeks in his hands and his eyes were wide in disbelief. I called his name but he didn’t seem to notice my voice. He didn’t even look up at me. I turned back around and slowly inched my way down that hall, standing over my mom who had “Amah. What’s happening? ” My mom sprang up to her feet and clenched both of my arms so tight that it hurt e, but I wouldn’t show her that it hurt me. Apparently she was hurting far more than I was in that moment.
She hugged me tightly, and then quickly pulling away she looked deep into my eyes, it felt like she was looking deep into my soul. Her body was shaking and her tears were overflowing as she found a way to whimper, “Jon and Dad. It’s Jon and Dad. ” I could feel my soul shatter in that moment, because I knew my brothers were dead. A chill came over me. Not goose bumps, not a gust of wind blowing in from the door where the Police Officer had left it open, but an absolute freeze. It grew from the top of my head and raced down my body until it reached the end of my toes and circulated back again.
I attempted reaching for my mom as I fell to the floor in a fit, screaming like I had heard her screaming a moment ago. “No! You’re lying. That would never happen! ” I yelled out in a rage of disbelief. At that point my mother Joined me there on the floor where we howled together, unable to form real words any longer, only howls. My dad crouched to the floor and ushered us to our feet, walking us over to the couch to sit, as though sitting on a ouch writhing in grief is somehow more comfortable than on the floor sprawled out in a mad flail. But what could he do to alleviate the pain?
As it was, nothing would. The Police Officer assigned to the unspeakable task of notifying our family, moved across the living room floor and into our line of sight. “They were coming around the corner at Pillar Creek when the Jeep fishtailed. ” My mom and I instantly bawled at the details and trembled as we held each other tightly there on the couch. So tightly, I do not recall to this day a more genuine embrace, somehow beautiful to me now. Suddenly a close friend of my dad’s, who had been notified of what had happened, appeared in the doorway extending his condolences and support to us.
It was of no comfort to me or my dad as we sat on the couch in utter shock. Speechless to one another. It was 4:44 in the morning when I looked up at the clock, wondering when my mom would be home. She had unfortunately been whisked away to the hospital to identify my brother’s bodies. I have never been able to comprehend how she did that. To walk into that morgue, both of my lifeless brothers laying side by side, muted by death, hill my mom’s screams rang against the cold steel gurneys.
It must haunt her to this day, and for the rest of her life. Trying to make heads or tails of this tragedy, I recalled the poetry portion of my English class that had been an incredible instrument for expression for me and in that moment, I was compelled to write. I grabbed a piece of paper from in the kitchen, a pen that had been cast to a dusty corner of a reading desk, and began to write. My fingers, each separated, were white-tipped as they pressed down firmly on the paper.