Have you ever had one of those days? One where if you had done something different, something would not have happened? This was one of those days; One that turned my whole world upside down.
I woke up on July 4th 2009 feeling excited about that day. My family was coming over for the Fourth to swim with us and set off fireworks and have a good time. I put on my swimsuit and ran into the kitchen to eat breakfast. “Secilya it’s a little early to be wearing your swimsuit.” I looked up to see mom holding my baby sister Darbie. I smiled and ate my breakfast a little slower so as to avoid choking. My sister Ellie and my brother James walked in wearing their swimsuits and sat down with me. As soon as we finished we ran outside so we would be hot and the water would feel welcoming to us. Have you ever been to Mississippi in the middle of the summer? It feels like you’re a chicken being cooked rotisserie style. When we went outside we looked next door and saw our dad and Papa Hal fixing the fence around the pool. I think the sound could have been heard miles away. But it did not bother us. We climbed onto the trampoline and jumped for awhile. Dad came back and began to barbecue some burgers. After about a few minutes, mom came out with Darbie and began walking next door.
“Race you!” Ellie said and all three of us began running. We walked inside the house and grabbed everything we could carry. This included goggles, sinking toys, floaties, and one of those mattresses that float. The water was dark and murky because the pool had been drained a few days ago because it was being converted to salt water and we use well water. We through our things into the pool and jumped! I helped Ellie and James put their water wings on and they helped me with mine. (Yes. I was nine and didn’t know how to swim.) While we swam our Papa Hal and Hebert continued to fix the fence. Our cousins, Andrew, Jean and Bubba where swimming with us. After awhile I had to use the bathroom. Before I ran inside I told James to stop running around the pool. “Okay!” He said in his cute and squeaky voice.
Do you remember what I said before? How if you had done something different everything might have changed? Thinking back on it, I wish that I had waited a few more minutes before leaving the pool.
When I came back something felt wrong, though I could not tell what. I stood there, looking around trying to find what was out of place. The dog was running around, Ellie and my cousins were still swimming and the fence was still being worked on. Then it hit me. Like someone had punched me in the gut as hard as they could. Where was James? I dismissed the worry and told myself that he must have gone inside without me noticing. I got back in the pool. I swam around for a few minutes when I heard mom scream “Where is James?” I began to worry and ran inside hoping to find my five year old brother.
But I didn’t. I thought for a minute. Maybe he went next door. I ran as fast as I could next door where my dad was barbecuing. “Did James come over here?” I asked as I gasped for breath. “No.” This time my heart began to race. I turned to see Ellie and Andrew walking over. “He’s not here!” I shouted. My dad began running leaving our lunch un-attended. I was running next door when somewhere in the back of my mind I heard a voice say “You know where he is.” When I approached the house, I could see through a hole in the fence, Hebert coming out of the pool holding a lifeless body. “Oh, no.” I said.
My dad pushed me inside the house where the other children were. He was calling an ambulance. The police arrived within minutes. James was put in the ambulance and mom rode with him. Dad got in his car and followed them. I sat down in a chair and began to cry. No one noticed me and I was kind of glad. I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to cry. After a while I felt a little better. I sat down to eat some watermelon. It was about three in the afternoon and all I had eaten was eggs that morning. About half way through my grandmother pulled up. She walked inside and told us to get dressed. She was mad because dad had left us at home instead of bringing us to the hospital. I didn’t want to go but I went anyway. While we were in the car, my grandmother (who I call Maga) told us that James was airlifted to the children’s hospital in Jackson.
When we got to the hospital I saw my dad sitting there with his parents. Noni and Papa Hal. I sat down and waited for what seemed like years. My mom came out of the room where they had James and said we could go see him. I will never forget what I saw. A little boy with tubes coming out of him, his skin had a yellow color. He didn’t look like James. Beside him he had a toy ambulance that had lights that flashed. I wanted to cry but decided not to. I had to be strong, for James. I began telling him about him flying in a helicopter. He always wanted to fly in one.
After a few minutes, I walked back to the waiting room. The doctors whisked James away to another room and mom followed. Nana and Pappy (Mom’s dad and her stepmother) came from North Carolina to the hospital. I don’t remember much except that they took us to a movie, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. We had been at home for two days, when mom and dad came home. I walked outside and saw Maga sitting in the rocking chair crying. I was confused. Where was James? Mom and Dad called me and Ellie and asked us to walk with them. As we listened to them talk I began to realize what was wrong. I let out a scream and began to cry profusely. James Timothy died July 7th 2009.
For the next few days, mom and dad began to look around cemeteries for a place where they could bury James. I was at home with Ellie making lunch when they came home. Dad took me to a mall in Monroe to pick out dresses for me and Ellie. I picked brown ones with pink accents. My cousins Josh and Julia came from Baton Rouge, along with the rest of their family. I manly stayed with my best friend Abye and her family. After awhile we buried James. We didn’t stay long; mom couldn’t take anymore and climbed in the van with Darbie. Ellie, Daddy and I climbed in and buckled up. I began to cry hard on my Mother’s lap. She comforted me the best she could. Before we left I spoke to God in my mind. “I hate you. You could have saved him and you didn’t. I will never forgive you”
I bet you’re thinking “That’s the end of it, Right?” Wrong.
On July 20th (My birthday) My Great-Grandfather died. Then eight days later, we had just gotten lunch at Wendy’s and were driving home. I was in the back seat with Darbie and I dropped my toy. As I reached to grab it I heard mom scream” LOOK OUT!” I looked up in time to watch our van collide with a dark blur. The impact knocked me out but I could still hear what was happening. We were in a ditch. At first everything was fine and I sat there until I felt something drip on my leg. It made me open my eyes and see a red liquid on my leg. Blood was splattered on Darbie’s car seat. I reached up and felt the blood flowing from my nose. My mom got out of the van with napkins and held them to stop the blood flow. After a few minutes an ambulance arrived. They placed a collar around my neck and laid me on a stretcher. I was rushed to the hospital and changed into one of those nightgown thingies. I was placed in a large machine and was instructed to hold my breath for insane amounts of time. Then I went home. I found out that I had shattered my nose and needed surgery to fix it.
Crazy, huh? I bet you’re wondering how I fixed my relationship with God. Well the truth is; I didn’t, at least not for awhile. About a month or so had passed. My nose was fixed and everything was fine, except I felt funny. I expected to feel funny after everything that had happened, but it was more like a longing. I realized that I had not prayed since James had died. My spirit wanted to but my heart was still grieving and still angry. I didn’t plan to go back to God until I heard a song playing on my radio. I bought wow Hits 2009 for my birthday. One of the songs was I wanna set the world on fire, by Britt Nicole. I woke up in the middle of the night and heard that song. Well actually, I was dreaming I was being chased by a T-Rex in a baseball park and I ran in a building where the seat glowed purple and made noise when you touched them. I heard that song playing and something about it made me snap; Like waking up from a strange dream. The fact that she loved God so much as to want to give everything she had to show her love for him made me realize that God loved me as much as he loved James. I sat on my bed and began to pray. I asked for forgiveness for turning away from God, and you know what? I saw James in my dream that very night.
I’m not sure how it all works, but I know it was really James. We played together and we had so much fun! When I woke up, I felt like I got to finally say goodbye to James and I knew he loved me as much as I loved him. I knew deep inside that there were more things to come for me and for James, and that I had to continue to trust God. Maybe I won’t always understand things and maybe they won’t always feel good, but God always has the best plan and I’m so glad I’ve learned to trust Him again.