I remember it well. All, all too well.
I was in eighth grade. I’d just finished marching band practice for the night. It was still pretty hot for a late December night, and unfortunately, I was in some trouble because I hadn’t memorized “New York, New York.” I was supposed to pack up my clarinet and run a lap around the parking lot where we practiced.
But all of that changed in an instant.
My friend’s younger sister ran down the lot from where her mother was standing and waiting. She found me right away, and she had a look of panic on her face.
Then she said it.
“Erica’s was hit by a coal truck.”
I remember not knowing what to say or do. It was as if my whole world just stopped and I couldn’t comprehend anything that was being said. She kept saying more and more, but I tuned her out to look for my mom. I don’t know why I looked up the parking lot for her because I was supposed to go home with my neighbor and her parents. Maybe I was just hoping that I’d see my mom and I’d know that everything was alright. That Erica wasn’t hit. That she was at home with her sister, Nikki and my Grandma Cel.
But that wasn’t the case. I saw my pap walking towards me, and he then confirmed everything. My cousin was in the hospital. He told me that she was in critical condition and that my parents were there with her and my Grandma Cel. He told me to gather my things and meet him and my grandma up in the upper parking lot so he could take me home.
That five minute car ride was one of the strangest car rides. My grandparents explained to me that they hadn’t heard much from my parents. They didn’t know how my cousin was doing, but they were sure that my mom and dad would be home some time that night.
When we got to my house, they did something that they hadn’t done in years. They stayed with me and my younger siblings. I guess they thought it would be okay to leave Emily with my little brother for the few minutes that it took to pick me up from practice.
It didn’t take long for my parents to get home, but they arrived with my cousin, Nikki.
She looked terrible. I tried to comfort her, but it was so hard. How can you really try to comfort someone when they had to witness their sister get hit like that? So we all just sat on the couch until my mom made the four of us go to bed.
Around eleven that night, my grandma called my mom and told her that Erica was dying. I begged and begged my mom to take me to the hospital with her. After all, Erica was one of my best friends. We used to play Barbies together and just hang out every time she came over. I didn’t want to see her leave this earth without me getting to say goodbye.
Right then, my dad looked at me. He was as white as a ghost as he said, “Erin, you do not need to see her like that.”
And that was that. Mom went back to the hospital to be with her mother and her niece while my dad stayed with us.
Nobody woke us up for school the next morning, but I woke up out of nowhere. At that moment, the phone rang. It was mom. She was calling us to let us know that Erica had passed away and she’d be on the way home.
I was devastated, but I knew that it was nothing compared to the news that my mom would have to give Nikki when she got to the house.
I can still hear Nikki’s screams to this day as she cried out when my mom told her. They were loud and vicious. I thought that they would wake everyone in the neighborhood who hadn’t already gotten up for work or school.
It was the hardest thing I ever had to go through, sitting there and knowing that wishing would never bring Erica back, but we all just sat there, together, not wanting to move on, but knowing that the world wouldn’t stop for us.
A huge thank you to Erin for sharing this story. I’m sorry for your loss. I have went through something similar and it is such a hard thing to go through. I think you all should leave some love to Erin ~~ Have any of you gone through a similar situation?