Today’s Assignment: Tell me what you no longer have.
It was a normal day. I woke up on time and went through my normal routine. I arrived to work with enough time to run up to the corner store for my regular coffee and muffin. Everything was just as it always was. I unlocked the store doors and awaited the inevitable “window shoppers” that were destined to grace me with their presence that day. It was a hot July day in Blowing Rock, NC, and the tourists would be out in full force today. I would be busy, but I wouldn’t make many sales. Just looking, I’d hear.
My cell phone rang. My mother’s voice was hoarse and strained, but she kept the conversation on the surface simply asking if I’d cancelled an upcoming doctor’s appointment. I had. But something was wrong. There was something she wasn’t telling me.
You sound sick.
I sound sick?
Yeah, like you’re all stuffed up. What’s going on?
Mom, I don’t believe you. What’s wrong.
At home sleeping. He worked night shift last night, why?
Well, because I have something awful to tell you, and I don’t want you to be alone when I do.
I’m not alone, Mom. The stock guy is here. What’s going on?
I’m calling J. I’ll call you back.
I started shaking. I felt my fear rise from my chest into my throat as I started sorting through all the different options. What on earth could it possibly be? I would never have guessed in a million years.
After a good ten minutes, I informed the stock guy that I’d be on a personal call downstairs and that he needed to watch the floor. He completely understood and told me to take as long as I needed. He’d been a good friend.
My legs seemed to be jello as I descended the wooden stairs to the basement that lead to the parking lot. My head felt empty but swarmed with voices telling me that my life was about to change forever, no matter the news. This wasn’t something small. I just knew it.
I dialed the phone in my shaky hand. My mother’s voice greeted me again.
I couldn’t get J.
I know. He’s sleeping. What’s going on?
I really don’t want to tell you this way. There’s no easy way to tell you this.
Mom! Would you just tell me who died already?!
Uncle John died this morning.
Oh my god. Everything around me started to turn grey, and I heard myself scream. I know people say that when things like that happen their adrenaline just starts pumping through their bodies, and they really aren’t responsible for their own actions or reactions anymore. That’s true.
Somehow I got off the phone. My eyes were still dry and words were trapped in my throat. I felt numb. I climbed the stairs and entered onto the sales floor. To this day I still couldn’t tell you if there were any customers. I made eye contact with the stock guy, my friend, and he instantly knew that something was terribly wrong. As he was making his way over to me, I could see his lips moving and heard noises coming from him, but I couldn’t tell what he was saying. Everything went into slow motion. Then it went black.
I guess when you lose everything you have nothing left to do but collapse.
it wasn’t a normal day at all.