Young Death by Crystal Raen
There was rain hitting the glass panes of the picture window in the living room. The smell of wood heat came up from the basement and a wooden box full of broken crayons sat on the floor between Chris and me.
Quiet conversation takes place among the grownups while we color. We stop only to fight when he tries to fix my drawing. I have a typical three year old melt down. Our parents make plans for us to have a play date later in the week. We say goodbye.
Friday arrives, but I am sick. Mom is scared; I’ve thrown up too much. My fever is too high. She calls my aunt. “Kay, I’ve got to take Crystal to the Doctor. I’m afraid she has the stomach flu.”
It's late now, I’m asleep, tired from the doctor visit. Nothing left to throw up. I’m too tired to go see why mama is crying. The next few days are a blur. Everyone around me is sad. I want to see Chris. I’m told I can’t. The grownups give me some toys, tell me to go play. I do, but I’m confused. Then we all dress up. Everyone is wearing somber colors; I have to sit quietly in a pew. Everyone is crying, I try to give them gum and tissues.
They smile sadly and tell me to be still.
“Is Chris coming?” No one answers, they just sob harder. I feel sad too.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve seen my cousin. He’s my best friend and I want to play. I tell mama and my grandfather constantly. My grandfather says we will take a trip. In the car he tells me that Chris can’t play with me anymore. That God called him home. We park in the grass. We walk along and stop in front of two headstones. One for Chris and one for his father.
“Pawpaw, why can’t Chris come play with me?” I touch the cold gray stone that my grandfather says marks the grave of my cousin.
“He’s sleeping with the angels.”
“Can he come back when he wakes up?” I look up at my grandfather, he seems so tall, so strong, his tears scare me.
“He won’t wake up sweet girl, not in this world. He’s home with God now.”
“Can I go where he is?” I sit down now, still not understanding what happened, only understanding that my best friend was not there. I wouldn’t see him again. I didn’t truly understand what that meant, I only knew that I didn’t like it and it made me sad.
“Not for a long time. We cannot follow where he goes.”
My grandfather picks me up, my tiny body wracked with sobs. We get back into his car and drive home. I quit asking about Chris. I understand now that it upsets the grownups when I do.