"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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My Guardian Angel

Fri, Jan 21st, 2011
Posted in Journal Student Writing Project

It was an average day at the Stortz residence. Dad was busy outside doing chores, and I was on the way back from a dentist appointment along with my boyfriend and Mom. The ride seemed to take forever. Finally arriving home, I opened the door to find my friend Chelsey and my sister Danielle watching television. After we all got settled in, the phone rang. "You get it;" "no, you!" All at once the ringing stopped and I heard my Mom's voice from the next room. Thinking nothing of it, we went on about our own business. A faint cry came from the kitchen; it grew louder with each footstep toward us. Mom stood in the doorway, tears pouring down her face and onto the floor. With much hesitation, her quivering lips relayed the message that would forever change my life.

Sitting in the passenger's seat of a car as it moved at an uncontrollable speed didn't seem to bother me at all that day; my mind was wrapped around something else. I remember thinking, "If only I hadn't gone to the dentist today, I could have stayed home and watched him instead." My mind was racing almost as fast as my heart was, at a pace that felt like it could pop out of my chest at any second. With a screeching halt, the car came to a stop. Out of the car, in front of the house, and up the stairs we went. Barging the door open, we stood before my sister Dennise and her boyfriend Dan. Their eyes appeared huge; they were surprised to see us break through their front door. Without hesitation or time for words, we grabbed their arms, and drug them back down the stairs and into the car.

"What's going on?" insisted Dennise. As I grasped for air, the words flew out of my mouth with little or no connection to my thought process. I immediately clasped my hands over my lips. The noise inside the car fell silent as we waited for the news to sink in. Suddenly a sound arose that would make anyone cringe; it was the sound of a heartbroken mother. My curious eye glanced backwards to see two hands clenched together, consoling one another. A flashing blur of red drew our attention forward. Once again the car came to a halt, and all doors flew open. As I stood outside, frozen, a hand helped me forward. The red blur was now as bright as it could have ever been, illuminating the letters a-m-b-u-l-a-n-c-e. Before me sat a stretcher, cords, blood. Wait, blood?!

Backing away and closing my eyes wasn't enough to bring ease to the image before me. Opening my eyes, my nephew Anthony was still there, lying on the ground lifeless. Paramedics surrounded my nephew, having every intention of saving his life. A feeling overpowered me; it was as if my stomach had turned inside out. Backing away to a chair, my mind started racing again, repeating, "If only I hadn't gone to the dentist today." Finally being interrupted by a deep voice that softly muttered, "He is stable and able to breathe with the help of a ventilator." A sigh of relief escaped as I was able to push myself to stand once again. "He will need to be airlifted; I suggest all of you start heading for the hospital."

Looking ahead I watched a train of cars twisting before us were all going in the same direction. Suddenly the lead car turned around and headed in the opposite direction. My heart sank to the soles of my shoes. Another red light appeared on the dash. This time it was a warning to put fuel in. Pulling into the nearest gas station, my Mom's cell phone rang. There was no fight as to who would answer, just pure silence. My mom's head fell downward as she hung up her phone. Tears again formed in the corners of her eyes as she uttered, "Let's go back." A loud slam echoed within the car as my Dad's hand struck the door. No words were needed; At this point it was better to say nothing at all.

The ride back seemed to take forever; once again my mind was wandering. With the presence of my friend beside me, I came back to reality as her hand gently rubbed my back. Arriving at our destination, we were in no hurry to exit the car. Step-by-step, we made our way towards the rest of our family.

Very little was said as we all stood around. My other nephew and my niece were there, so I kept busy holding them. My eyes glanced over to see the grief stricken father, Fred, fall to his knees, hands covering his face. Dennise walked over to me and asked if I wanted to see him. I hesitantly stood up and made my way over to the ambulance. Climbing up into the back, I felt as though I was going to faint. A hand held me up as I entered. Sitting down, I got up the courage to look at my nephew. He didn't have the smile I had always seen upon his face. Instead, I saw a pale little boy lying lifeless. Reaching out my hand to touch his, I felt a void in my life beginning to widen. This warm vibrant boy was cold that day. A few moments later, I exited the ambulance, overcome with a feeling of disbelief.

Walking up the stairs, I reached the top where a man in a suit stood holding the door. Pictures of my nephew were displayed everywhere in a room that was surrounded by flowers. The brightest corner in the room was one that displayed a small box. This light drew me closer until I realized what I would see inside. Stopping dead in my tracks, I felt a hand around me, this time it was my boyfriend's. A few minutes passed before he started coaxing me forward. With each step I took, the chills climbing down my spine increased.

Before I knew it, I was standing as close as I could possibly go. As I opened my eyes, his two tiny hands clutching a skid loader came as a surprise to me. I found myself reminiscing in the past. His smile was the thing I noticed the most. It was always accompanied by a bubbly laugh. With all the memories came tears; I couldn't bear it any longer. Running to the next room, I was followed by Dennise. We sat hand in hand, comforting one another until the tears dried, readying us for the day to come and the many people we would see.

Sitting in the front row beneath stain glass windows was an odd feeling for me that day. The service seemed to go by fast, but then our row was told to stand. Walking forward, my hands grasped underneath the casket. Instantly it hit me. This was the last time I would be close to my nephew. The last time I would see him. As we were walking, I was struggling to see through the tears swelling in my eyes. Reaching the stairs, I stumbled, yet a hand kept me in place. My grip loosened as I backed away. The long black vehicle took off as a train of cars followed.

A grim feeling flooded over me as we entered the path where the ground was covered with stones. Step-by-step we went as I reached out and grasped underneath the casket. His dad sat idling in a skid loader, as he lowered the bucket to ground level. Slowly and carefully we placed him inside the bucket for his "final ride." Emotions ran high as his dad inched his way forward, stopping by a crowd of people. My hands grasped the casket one final time. Round colorful balloons floated away to heaven, along with them a piece of my heart.

To this day I still find myself thinking, "If only I hadn't gone to the dentist that day." No matter where I am, I feel little fingers interlaced with mine, comforting, holding. The feelings go away as fast as they came to me, just as he did.

Danette Stortz is a student at Mabel-Canton High School. She is one of 10 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its twelfth year.

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