Sitting in Kymberli's room tonight awake at 2:24 in the morning. Awake, when I should be asleep, resting. Resting for Kym's big day to come home from the hospital after having brain surgery.
Going down to smoke a cigarette on the main floor, everything seems to be all right. Maybe even peaceful. The hospital's pastor passed me in the hall with a silent look and smile that told me everything was going to be all right, now. It was strange to me, for not six years earlier, in this same hospital but on the sixth floor, this same man told my mother and me that my dad was not expected to live through the night, explaining to us that we needed to call immediate family members soon to say our good-byes. I knew in my heart, then, that he was wrong, just as strongly as I feel with his comforting glance, he is right.
Sitting on the terrace, smoking and listening to nothing, it finally hit me--sank in. Kymberli's going to be all right. I can breath. Thoughts now flushing through my brain to all the wrongs in my life. "Dad, Mom, I am sorry for making you cry. For putting that fear into your heart when I ran away. I understand, now. I realize the power of that love you have for a child, a sister, and your brother, for family." It's very powerful, and at this juncture overwhelming, as I start to cry for the first time since Kymberli was brought back to this familiar place. Tears were falling as I looked into the sky, smiling, and said out loud, "Thank you, God, for not taking her."
"Thank you for letting her be with me longer." Flashes of her smile, laughter and gentle spirit seeped through, just getting me through to the next day. "Thank you" is all I could say. Crying now, tears rolling down fast, with snot running from my nose and no Kleenex's. A lady joins me on the terrace. I felt strongly the need to explain to her I was overjoyed, so happy I was crying (which has never happened to me before this). I actually was so relieved, I felt a thousand pounds lighter. I could breathe without restriction.
Now that emotions were on a rampage, new thoughts were flying, flashbacks of you and me, guys. My family. Brenda and her pot plants on the side of the house in Toppinish, going to catch crawdads. Eating at Big Boys, where she waitressed. Wanting to be just like her.
Billy's memories flashed through, just like rubbing alcohol or hair spray with a match, lighting up his hand. Taking me swimming at the canal bridge with the rope swing. Being twelve and having all my girlfriends wanting to stay over just to see him when he was home from the military.
Melody took me back to long, late-night talks in our bedroom (me in the middle, always warm, and her yelling for more covers). Remembering one specific night when Melody found me crying. I missed Travis and Deborah, our brother and sister who were taken soon after birth. Melody told me that night that she was pregnant, going to have a baby, and just maybe Travis and Deborah picked them out in heaven, making me feel a lot better about things.
Sonia, my closest sister, disagreements, fighting while having to clean up our room that was occupied by Melody also. Watching Sonia practice all her cheerleading cheers and routines with her friends in the front yard. Me always out of sight, but wanting and wishing that I could be just like her.
Scotty's turn, now, and although I have many memories, one sticks out the most. Mardon Resort, our big brother's birthday party, and Scotty so drunk, he ran in circles, sucked the glass window at the lounge to imitate a carp and then crashing and burning spread-eagle, snoring, in the tent. Running up behind are the fights about what television show we would watch and me losing because I was off crying somewhere.
Ronnie comes last. With us being the closest in age and closest in mind, we did everything together. Games of playing grown up and being stunt men and practicing by jumping off the bunk beds onto the mattresses. On to playing Boss and Secretary, and letting us use his big calculator and blank index cards. Then Ronnie asking me, one day, why I had run away from home, and me not knowing how to answer. "I was lost for awhile and I just wanted and needed to feel safe." I dealt with it in ways that were confusing to all of us.
I need to tell all of you a lot of things I haven't said for awhile. Dad, Mom, Brenda, Billy, Melody, Sonia, Scotty, and Ronnie," I don't ever want to lose you, you are all and always will be my childhood, my sisters, my brothers, my family."
I love you all so very much, and although we are all grown and life has taken us in different directions, we are bound to one another by so many wonderful memories. Some maybe not so good ones, but, hey, no family is perfect, right? I love you, Brenda, Billy, Sonia, Scotty, Ronnie. Mom, Dad, I love you. Thank you for all the times you didn't give up on me or anyone else."
Thank you for being strong and courageous through life's problems and worries. You gave to us always a home, not always filled with perfect love. Yet always instilling in all seven of us kids what family is all about.
BIO: Kymberli McNiven first discovered her penchant for writing when she was eight and began chronicling her thoughts in a daily journal she kept. Ms. McNiven, who has lived most of her thirty-one years in the Pacific Northwest, draws upon her own family experiences when authoring her creative works. Her accomplishments, in addition to her three children, include the publications of her works that appear on such websites as Shortstories.com and One of Us.com.
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