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Blindsided by Isabelle Pierce

artwork by Emma Pillers


This moment changed your life. The moment you can never forget no matter how hard you try. This marks a moment you'd rather not remember. This moment holds significance for you. How should you feel? How do you put it into words? These questions constantly circle your mind. You not only contemplate the answers to these questions but you contemplate this whole event. Sometimes you refuse to acknowledge this happened to you. You refuse to acknowledge this happened to your family, but this moment will never be forgotten; this moment changed many lives.

On a scorching summer day, you, a child of about nine years, find yourself once again reluctantly accompanying a sibling to a sporting event. This time, your sister's softball game takes place. You recall the moment of arrival, intense frustration welling up within you; the lack of a playground means you have to watch your sister play. The day blazes, asserting its status as the hottest of the year. The heat stirs an unsettling feeling within. Little do you know in about five minutes your entire life will change.

“Get your things all packed up we are leaving.” Your mom's dreadful words reach you as she speaks. You don’t know what that means. You follow her instructions despite your uncertainty. You watch her walk up to the dugout, informing your sister that your departure will happen immediately after the game ends. Again you don’t think much of it. You see her go talk to one of her friends. You watch them hug. At this moment, your heart drops into your stomach, signaling an unsettling realization.

Your mom rushes you and your sister out of the ballpark. By this point, you both sense that something has gone wrong. As you get in the car your mom's phone rings. You watch her eye it, take a huge sigh, and pick it up. She doesn't say anything, she just listens. You and your sister sit next to each other watching your mom intently. Then it happens. You see her break down and tears roll down her face. Instantly thousands of situations come to mind. Your dad's plane encountered a crash, or an incident involving your brother unfolded; various scenarios race through your mind, except the one about to unfold. The situation that would crush you.

Your mom ends the call and gazes at you and your sister, both already in tears, as the uncertainty looms over you without any assurance of good news. Her sorrowful gaze fixes on you as she says, “Andrew, your cousin, is on his way to Iowa City. He is sick and not doing well, as soon as we get back in town I'm going to Iowa City with your aunt Andrea to see him.”

A thousand different emotions overwhelm you, leaving you unsure of how to react. You reassure yourself that everything will go well. He, a healthy guy without any prior illness, will pull through. You allow yourself to believe this, recognizing it as the only way to navigate through this situation.

The journey home seems to stretch for days, though in reality, it lasts only 45 minutes. Finally, when you get home, you and your sister instantly embrace your older brother. At that moment, you understand family will provide the support to guide you through this. You receive information that your younger cousins will visit, and it's your responsibility to assist them. You understand the moment your little cousins arrive that strength is necessary, and you have to pretend everything has the appearance of normalcy. They haven’t fully grasped the situation yet, so shielding them from the harsh reality seems like the best course of action. As you sit and ponder everything occurring around you, your mom instructs you to head down to a family friend and neighbor, ensuring that you and your siblings remain not alone at this time and encouraging a distraction from the situation. The day seems to fade into darkness quickly. For the longest time you try to have fun and play with your little cousins, but you can’t help but think of the worst possible case.

What if this is it? I don't even get to say goodbye. I can't remember the last time I saw him or even what I said to him. This isn't fair. This weighs on you as you try to stay strong for those around you. Yet you sense both of your siblings experiencing the same pain.

The night's chill signals the need to head home. Confusion lingers, and you want answers. Your mom hasn’t told you anything. All you want is assurance of his well-being. The time your mom spent away seems like days. This has become the longest day of your life. It started in a dusty, sunny ballpark but quickly transitioned into a grey, dark, and daunting night.

The moment your mom walks in the door, you sense troubling news, yet you have to remain strong because your little cousins are still there. When they finally left, your mom sat you and your siblings down and told you the words that would forever haunt you.

“Andrew has passed away.” A sudden void engulfs your thoughts, leaving your mind blank, while an icy numbness spreads through your body, paralyzing every sensation. Collapsing into her embrace, tears flowing, it remains the only action you can take. You sit there holding your mom, sister, and brother, letting out all the emotion that overcomes you.

This moment will stay with you forever. This moment forever altered you. This moment broke you.

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