Our living room is filled with multi-colored containers filled with various Christmas decorations. Christmas music plays in the background as my mother and I begin the lengthy process of decorating the house for Christmas. Christmas was a time spent with family and friends. Families were sending out their Christmas cards and celebrating family traditions.
At least five containers hold ornaments and that for one tree. Another holds decorations for the outside. Why do we have so much of this stuff? Opening one of the many containers my mom made me carry upstairs hold special ornaments. Printed on the ornaments are names. Donna, Carmelina, Isabella, and Steven. Steven. My father’s name printed in blue on the sliver ordainment.
I don’t think of my father’s death as much anymore, but I do have moments where the scene does play in my mind over and over.
It was September 2001 and I was four years old and loved my parents. What little girl didn’t? I remember waking up to the bright sun coming through the window. It was a sign to me to wake up and start playing. Scattered around my room was coloring books, American Girl Dolls, Barbie Dolls, and plastic horses. Out of all the toys, I picked the plastic horses. My father was the best person to play games with. He made jokes and used different voices.
I remember walking into my parent’s room, hoping that they would be awake, so we can play. That’s all I wanted to do when I was younger. Instead of my mom and dad slowly waking up, I see my dad perpendicular to the bed and my mom hitting the bed next to him. She was screaming, “no Steven, you can’t be dead. You can’t be dead.”
Nothing was making sense to me. Was he dead? I don’t think my mom saw me watching her. I remember running back to my room and slamming myself onto my bed. The plastic horses smashed into me, but I didn’t care. Daddy wasn’t dead. No, he was just playing a prank on mommy and I. Yeah, he was just joking!
The last thing I can remember is three cops walking into the house and some mysterious women taking to my grandma’s house.
After my dad died, my mom became the main provider for us. We were living pay check to paycheck. I, of course, didn’t know what was going on because I was so young. She worked long hours five days a week, but some how managed to make it home to tuck me in at night. When she would be at work, my grandmother, who we live with now, would take care of me.
While I was in high school, my mom worked so much. She was the main provider for me for after my dad passed away and once we moved in with my grandma, she became her provider too. It was less and less when I would see her. It soon became the week
She would help me get ready for school and cheer and drive me everywhere. She is basically my second mother. My relationship with both sides of my family didn’t change right away after my dad’s death.
My father’s mother and I are very close. I try to see her and my uncles, aunts, and cousins as much as I can. That is one of the many things I am grateful that my mother did. She didn’t close the gap between my relationship with them and me. Even though she has her problems with them, she puts me first and makes sure that I see them.
When I was younger, I wasn’t completely close with my two uncles. They were always working and dealing with their own families. I never really saw them when I would visit my grandma, but when I did, they always watched a baseball game or a football game. My younger cousins and I didn’t start to become close until freshman year in college. Because there is such a big age gap between us, it was always awkward to be with them. I didn’t know how to interact with them. Now that they are all older, we get along nicely.
We haven’t been able to get these ornaments since 2004. The women who we bought them from moved away and it was too hard to buy them. It was always the best time to open the small, brown box to see what color they were. The blue and silver one with my father’s name written on it is my favorite. The blue and silver colors are the colors for Hanukkah.