It was an ordinary day. I woke up late in the morning, happily wrapped in the blankets since Andy is an early riser. There were no unpleasant coughing fits so it was a delightful bit of sleep. The cold/flu I had caught during the week was making life pretty difficult as I neared the weekend. After stumbling to the bathroom for the morning routine, I went out to greet my disgustingly perky husband in the dining room who was hotly debating something nerdy on slash.dot. I made way into the kitchen, grumbling to myself the entire time as I remembered I have not gone grocery shopping yet which meant breakfast was going to be pretty limited. I stared warily into my fridge and searched like the cure for cancer was in there. Lucky for me, there was still one english muffin and enough cream cheese. Score!
As I placed the nook and cranny filled breads into the toaster, my phone started to ring. Nobody I knew called before noon unless it was important so I answered my cell.
"Denise, I have some terrible news. It's very shocking. Someone died this morning."
Dad's voice wasn't shaking and the despair wasn't dripping off of every word. So I knew it wasn't Mamaw, my recently widowed grandma I.E. his Mom. My mind was swept into a macabre investigation as I went over all the names in my mind of elderly and older relatives. My father was clearly shocked and dumbfounded by the revelation. So I let him continue.
"Ivy called several times early this morning while we were in bed. When your mother got up she called her back and one of the twins told her. You won't believe it."
"It's not Nanny, is it?" I heard myself say, thinking of my other grandmother.
"Oh my god, Aunt Terri?" I spat out as I felt my heart rate accelerate.
As you have no doubt noticed, I haven't let my Dad tell me directly. The last time he did, it was my grandfather. It was hard for me to hear words like that come tumbling out of another person's mouth. I have found that if I put the pieces together myself, it was easier for me to accept and understand since my mind was prepped even in the slightest.
"No, but that's very close." He spoke slowly and I knew he was trying to gauge my reaction before proceeding.
"No. Denise, this was very unexpected-"
I bit my lip and I jumped as the toaster ejected my crisp english muffins, utterly engrossed in the conversation. "Was it Aunt Brenda?"
"No, you were closer before-"
"Amy?" I uttered the name of my twenty-five year old cousin who lived at home with my Aunt Terri, Uncle Mike, and brother Joey. I felt my chest tighten as the seconds of silence stretched into eons.
"Yes. She's still out at the house, they haven't picked her up yet." Dad confirmed my creeping fear, his voice deep and sober.
"They are thinking that it was an accidental overdose. She complained of feeling sick the day before and took a fair amount of some prescription drug before going to bed. They'll do an autopsy but nobody will know a thing for a few weeks."
"Who found her?"
"Mike went in to wake her up in the morning and saw that her lips were turning blue. He called the ambulance but, it was too late."
"How is Terri taking it?"
"She doesn't know yet...."
"She's in the hospital, recovering from cataract removal. Mike hasn't told her yet."
"Nanny is devastated. Joey and Mike are as well."
"Wait, Dad! Where's her little boy? Where's Brandon?!"
"His great-grandmother dropped him off there at the house today. Mike is trying to get ahold of her to pick him up since technically she has custody of him."
"Do you think it was an accident, Dad?"
"I don't think she'd kill herself. We just saw her 1 week ago and she seemed in good spirits. I don't think I can go to the funeral......."
Every other word he said after that held no meaning as my mind reeled. It was as if I had become stuck in a pocket of space where time no longer mattered. Amy, Nicole, and I were in the same age group growing up. But when we became teenagers, we drifted apart because we all chose distinctly different paths in life. A series of events shaped us each in our own ways, for better and in their cases, for worse. I didn't judge them for the life they chose but I certainly didn't like what they had become. But now there's a little boy who will grow up without his Mom. She may not have been a very good one at times but, that's the only Mom he knew. Being only 4, he'll never remember her.
At some point, I told my Dad I loved him and that I had to go. I numbly spread cream cheese over my english muffins and joined my husband in the dining room. I dropped my cell phone with a nerve-wracking clatter on the glass surface and looked at Andy. He met my gaze and all I could hear was the sound of my own heart beating.
"Amy died this morning. Her father found her. She left behind a little boy."
It was an ordinary day.