I remember August 28, 1978. I can remember every minute detail about that day. I remember it all so well, because that is the day that I died. Death was no respecter of persons that day. When death struck he left a memory that has lasted a lifetime.
I wanted to believe that that day was just another bad dream in a succession of dreams that have haunted me since. I prayed to have him, to hold him, to love him, and he was snatched without mercy from my grip.
In August, the year I turned 19, I was presented with a beautiful child, (only a mother could see the beauty in a wrinkled, red baby with thick matted black hair and a misshapen head). I named him Eric. Eric was everything I could have ever hoped for. And then Eric died. At 8:30 in the morning that healthy child of two was asking me for hot dogs and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Two hours later he was gone.
We walked to grandma’s house that morning and talked on the way. It was only two blocks to grandma’s house, and when we arrived he ran to play with the others in the back yard. We all chatted. We were having a good time. Suddenly, my heart began racing as terror hit my heart. What was it, I didn’t know. I yelled out, “Where’s Eric?” It was 10:20 am, and Eric was right there, on the other side of the glass, playing.
At 10:22, just two minutes later, something within my being jumped again, and I ran to the door. Why I ran, I don’t know. I think sometimes the heart knows before the mind. But, I ran and there he was limp within my brother’s arms. Dead! I knew it when I saw him. The memory lingers in my mind; and I have to push it away. If I don’t, I die all over again.
I ran into the house screaming, “Daddy, oh God, help me? What are we going to do?” I could hardly breathe. I didn’t want to breathe. I died in my heart, but I wanted to die in my body as well so as not to suffer all this anguish and grief.
The police came, the ambulance, but as they drove off, and I heard no sirens I knew it was final. We went to the ER, and we were told there was nothing they could do.
I went through the remainder of the day in a deathlike trance begging God to let me wake up, “Make it a nightmare, please God?” But I didn’t wake up. All night I lay on my bed hanging by a thread between sanity and lunacy. At four in the morning I knew…I had left him at the carnival…and I knew if I could get there I would find him.
I dressed and left the house. We had gone to the carnival for his birthday. That was only five days ago, so “he would be there.” I had to find him. Desperately I walked in those cold, lonely hours of the morning; and as I climbed the fence surrounding the park I called out for him, but, I heard no answer.
Then I knew. Those doctors at the ER had lied, they wanted Eric for themselves. I hurried to the phone booth, and I called them up to tell them I was coming to get him, and all they could say, after taking my baby from me was “stay where you are and we will come and pick you up.” It was a conspiracy; I had to get out of there. I had to get away.
I wandered the streets until dawn, and I called Daddy at another phone booth, “Daddy, where is he? Tell me the truth, everybody is lying to me.” I waited, and the silence was unbearable. He could not tell me, so he said nothing at all. He kept me on the line and found out where I was, and Momma came and got me. I knew by Momma’s face, I could tell, she knew too, I had died. Emptiness surrounded me. Tears welled up and they could not be stopped.
The time passed slowly, and on the day they buried my baby we gave him his blanket and everybody said their goodbyes. But not I, I wouldn’t say goodbye; I went with him in my heart; because that was the day I died.
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