Current mood: sad
The phone rang last night at 2:44 a.m. Instantly, I know it can’t be good, because who would call at that time of night. I approached the phone, wondering if it would be from my side of the family or Hubby’s. Of course, it was my side of the family. My sister T’s number appeared on the caller ID.
I took a deep breath, and picked up the phone. “Hello?” I said, scared to even hear her voice.
“CG.” she said, her voice almost devoid of emotion. My heart fell.
“CG.” she repeated.
“Yes, I’m here.”
“It’s Brian. He’s dead.”
My heart stopped. The room began to spin as my blood drained to my feet. My beloved brother? How could this be?
“Oh, My God…T…Oh, my god.”
“It was a car wreck.”
“Oh, no…No…” I sat on the end of the bed, my legs no longer capable of holding me up.
“Hold on a minute, someone’s calling on the other line.” What??? What the hell? She flipped over to the call waiting??? Maybe it was mom or dad, and that is a more important call to take. So I waited, barely breathing, as it sank in.
In the meantime, I grabbed Hubby’s leg. I started to feel the panic rising as I realized my beloved brother was gone. I felt like I was wearing concrete shoes and the river was rising above my head. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I told Hubby and he held me in disbelief. I couldn’t say much more than “Oh, God, why?”
I heard her voice on the phone again, “CG, honey?”
“T, oh my god, what are we going to do? How did you hear, was it mom who called you?”
“No, Brenda called.”
“Brenda from Aflex Holler?”
“No, cousin Brenda.” She sounded a little confused. I was too. Cousin Brenda lives in Cincinnati. My brother lives in Kentucky with my mom.
“How did SHE hear about it?” I asked.
“Well, Paul called her.”
Paul? Paul? Why would HE know about Brian’s car wreck? He lives about an hour from Brian. And we hardly talk to him.
“T, why would Paul know about Brian’s wreck? I don’t understand!”
“CG, honey, I said RYAN, Cousin Ryan…”
Relief floods my heart as well as guilt that I am so glad my brother is spared.
“Ryan? Ryan? Cousin Ryan? Oh, my God, T, I thought you said Brian! Hubby, it’s not Brian, its Ryan.” I am crying now, and to my eternal shame, I am crying from relief and thankfulness, not from grief for my sweet cousin.
“CG, honey, I tried to make sure I said it clearly. I’m sorry. And I put you on hold? I would never do that if it was our brother, honey, never.”
“I can see that now, T.” Deep breath, and then asked, “So how did this happen?”
“He was in the car with someone else who was driving, and they drove off the side of the mountain. He was thrown from the car, and the car went over top of him.”
What you need to know about Ryan is that he is the son of my first cousin, Teresa. Teresa was more like a sister than a cousin. My mom basically raised her, and her 3 sisters, alongside her own children. About a year and a half ago, Teresa was killed in a terrible car accident. The phone call came in the middle of the night, just like this one. Her husband was already dying of liver cancer, and he followed her in death about a month later, leaving Ryan (his stepson), age 20, and his sisters Dani, age 16 and Lecia, age 11. Now, poor Dani and Lecia have suffered another horrible loss.
Ryan was very special to my parents, he considered them his grandparents and called them Mamaw and Papaw. This is going to be a blow to both of them to hear.
“T, does Mom know?”
“No, Geraldine is on her way over there to tell her. I need you to call J and L (sisters) and tell them.”
“Ok, I can do that.” I hear her crying on the other line. “T, are you going to be ok?”
“No, I don’t think so!” She sobbed, “I talked so mean to him the last time I saw him!”
He had showed up drunk to Dani and Lecia’s house saying he was going to take it from them. He was behaving very horribly and the grief was making him crazy, I guess. T just happened to be there at the time, and had told him to leave and quit tormenting the little girls.
I guess that is a hard way to leave it, but she had to defend the girls. I am sure he was not holding a grudge. He never was really that way.
When Ryan was small, he stayed with us every day and my mom babysat him while Teresa worked. He was about 10-11 years younger than me, and Bri and I did have lots of fun with him, he had a good heart, but had a lot of substance abuse problems. He had been living down in Kentucky with his dad and his dad’s family.
I feel really bad about Ryan’s death. I am going to miss the guy immensely, he was a good kid. But I can’t help but feel enormous relief that it wasn’t Bri, that I have been spared that grief for at least a while longer. And that makes me feel really guilty and almost sacreligious.
I am going to make phone calls to see if I need to go down home to help out. And I’m going to tell my brother how very much I love him.