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essay \"Life's Reminder\"

Sept. 14th, 2003


Descriptive Essay

Life’s Reminder

        It happened like a flash across the midnight sky. One second we were discussing painting my room, of outlining the pinks and oranges of a setting sun in the corners, and the next moment I saw my mother, she was in tears. The death of a family member is hard on anyone, especially if it is one’s younger sibling. Her stern, motherly face was cloaked in grey as her heart received this shock. Like the evening tide rolling in, her eyes swelled up with tears as pink outlined the corners. Her brow scrunched in pain as she sat down in a chair. The sun had been shining brightly in our lives, and now, at this moment, we were cloaked in the grey clouds of death. Time seemed to stop, and all was focused on my mother.
        After walking up the stairs to ask my mother a question, I was told, “Take Haddie downstairs.” I paused as I took in the scene before me. Picking up the puppy, I stopped as my eyes swept over the image of my mother. Like a camera, my mind’s eye froze this scene, ever to be imprinted in my memory.
        My father pulled up the chair next to her as I stood in confusion, mind racing over reasons as to why my mother looked as she did. Should I do as my father asked and take Haddie downstairs? Or should I stay and find out why my mother looked so, shaken. Deciding on the latter, I picked up our chocolate and tan Miniature Pinscher puppy and held her squirming body in my arms.
        “Are you alright?” I asked, my voice filled with concern. My mother just sat in the chair, her hand covering her mouth as my father answered for her, “Paul’s dead.”
        With these words echoing in my head over the next week and a half, I watched as my mother stood strong in our presence. Frankly, I could not grasp how she could do this, knowing that she now had only five living siblings. Already having gone through the death of her father, I watched her as that week and a half went by. Even though she spent most of her time in Seattle during those ten days, I could tell she was staying solid in the face of her brother’s unexpected death.
        Though Paul’s death only affected me inversely, I could not imagine how it would feel to know one of my brothers or friends died unexpectedly. Though it seems unusual to say, the death of a friend would be just as great as the death of my siblings, for my friends are as much my family as one’s blood relatives.
        As I watched my mother greet her siblings and family on the day of my uncle’s funeral, I could tell that even then, she was fighting back tears. It wasn’t until her cousin Linda walked into the door that those tears spilled over like a dam breaking beneath the force of a swollen river. Like a baby letting spill the fall of sadness in the arms of its mother, she cried as she hugged her cousin, finally able to let her misery out. My mother crumbled before my eyes, as a branch breaks with the weight of winter’s snow. While her cousin Linda made the rounds of her siblings, I fought to hold back tears as I watched everyone’s sorrow spill forth on the shoulder of their childhood reminder.
        During the church ceremony, I watched, as my Grandma stood strong in the face of her son’s unexpected death. Like a rock on the coast of the Gibraltar, she stood strong while her children mourned for their loss. While I stood with my mother, I watched, feeling helpless, as I saw her cry for the third time in my life. Like that rare harvest moon casting its orange light across Washington’s landscapes, I watched my mother cry, my heart breaking. Unable to only stand sentry, I went to her as my brothers and I encircled her in hugs, letting her know that we, too, mourned her brother’s death. As my brothers and I followed the family’s procession, I reflected on my own reactions the day I was told of my uncle’s sudden end, a mere ten days before.
        “Paul’s dead.”
        Shock erupted in my brain as I processed this answer. Paul was Mom’s younger brother, and he lived in Seattle near Grandma’s, near Green Lake. Him? Dead? How could this be? He was younger than Mom, so how could he be dead? My thoughts were interrupted as my father questioned my mother, “Do you want me to call your sister, Carol, and find out what happened?”
        My mother nodded a reply as her eyes glazed over. Shaken too, I gave her a hug as I asked, “What happened?”
        Nearly mumbling, she replied, confusion and shock running her words together, “Your sister Linda just called to say that the guy living with Paul called Carol’s. He had called to say that Paul’s dead. The guy found him this morning and Carol’s on her way over to the apartment.”
        Processing this information, I inquired, “And Grandma? Does she know yet?”
        My mother nodded as Dad walked out of the kitchen to where we were gathered at the dining room table. Talking to Mom, he informed us, “Your mom answered and said that Linda’s on her way over and that Carol left for Paul’s apartment. As far as your mom knows, he’s dead.”
        “How’s Grandma?” I inquired; my heart in my throat with worry.
        “She said she won’t be long for this world,” my father replied.
        Thinking of her choice of words, I faltered. Grandpa had been dead for almost five years, and Paul was the child Grandma did anything within her power for. Without him in her life, where did that leave her? My thoughts sank deeper into this swirl of death as I realized Grandma may not be long for this world.
        Directing my focus back to my mother, I heard her say, “Can you get me a ferry schedule? I guess I won’t be going outside to work after all. Can you also get my suitcase?” As she directed us to her needs, my father and I helped her pack and ready herself to leave for Seattle. She instructed me to watch over Haddie while she was gone and for Dad to inform my brothers of the loss. Saying goodbye, my heart could not fathom the pain and shock she was feeling.
        Resurfacing from my thoughts to the funeral procession before me, I took a deep breath as I watched my mother walking among her family and childhood friends. Though he was not the most angelic person, Paul was still family, and would be greatly missed. My relationship with my deceased uncle consisted of the occasional visit and presents at all the right times. With the knowledge that he never failed to send a little gift to whomever he saw fit, I would always remember him as the uncle who cared for his family.
        A Sunday like no other, my family’s normal routine was interrupted by life. Death, like an out-of-balance top, spun sporadically through our lives, leaving us feeling confused, shaken, and worn. As I watched my mother working on automatic, I tried to stretch my imagination to the shock she was reeling from. As she cast off to be with her family, our hearts set off with her. Like a summer breeze rustling through the trees of our existence, Life herself reminded us how short our days really were, and that we mustn’t take her for granted.

that's a paper i wrote for my College Writing class... that's the rewrite i did... its definitely the better of the two essays... please tell me any type of feedback... it'd be much appreciated...

4:08 PM - 11.22.03 Saturday

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