Memorylane46’s Weblog

April 16, 2009

Choice

Filed under: Inspirational Story — memorylane46 @ 3:30 am
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Choice

I bolted upright in bed. Sweat poured profusely all over my body. The full moon up above lit the room and exposed the silhouettes of my two bed partners. How peacefully they slept, my darling little sisters!

So it was that night after night, they contentedly slept, on either side of me, secure in the knowledge that we had each other. The evening ritual was always the same. First we scratched each others backs, then we shared stories that were often invented on the spot for the sheer purpose of entertainment, and eventually they drifted off to sleep while I pondered what dreams would come to disrupt my rest.

Now I sat there, perplexed, confused, dizzied by the thoughts that raced through my mind. I had awakened just as I was ready to cast my vote. Not unlike Merril Streep in the movie “Choice”, my dream told me to make a choice. She had to choose which one of her children she would give to the Nazi soldier knowing it to be the child’s death sentence; I had to choose which one of my brothers was destined to die. Now my mind raced trying to remember the details of the dream. For one, how was death going to render it’s ultimate verdict?

I had six brothers to choose from. At that moment I realized how equally my love was shared between them. Their loving faces took turns waltzing in front of me, eyes pleading for mercy.

My oldest brother, oh how dearly I loved him! He was the apple of my eye! The world couldn’t have existed without him! “No, Death,” I pleaded! “Turn your ugly face away! He is mine! You can’t have him!”

Then there was the brother who was one year younger than me. My best friend! He was the gallant young man who carried my books on the half mile walk to the bus stop. The endearing nick names that he kept inventing for me touched me deeply. How could I get by without him? “No, Death! Go away! Without him, the sun will not rise in the morning!”

Then came the other three. They went everywhere together. Mischief as well as pleasures they shared equally. The fun never ended! Endless rhymes through dinner kept us in stitches, night after night. They hunted together. They did shores together. They were inseparable. I saw their pleading eyes, their winning smiles, their love of life and again I pleaded with Death to go away!

Then , there was the baby. He was just five years old. Surely, he had not begun to live yet. Dream monster was mocking me!

Each and every one of them was unique and special. Each occupied an important place in the family! No! This dream was not going to become reality! Many of my dreams were prophetic dreams, but not all of them, and certainly not this one! It just couldn’t be! But then what if… who… how…? Sleep eluded me. I loved them all so much!

There was a rumbling black cloud that often prevented the sun from showing it’s face. It appeared in the form of a bad temper. My brother, my friend, had a determined outlook on life. His fury often wreaked havoc with my soul. Like the tornado that swept through the peaceful valley leaving disaster in it’s path, so did my brother’s wrath. The remorse that followed devoured at his heart like famished vultures. That was punishment enough. He would soon be over those difficult teenage years. He would learn!

But the determination that inhabited his being was to play a role in the tragedy that cut short his young life.

On the 20th of May 1964, the weather was at it’s best. All week-long, the thermometer had hovered in the 80 degree Fahrenheit. It was unusual for the cold north. Spring fever was busy humming her favorite tune in everybody’s ear. It was the end of the school year. All that remained were exams. Both my brother and I were exempted form writing several exams due to our good marks. Can life really be that glorious?

That day my brother and I skipped all the way home. Ecstasy filled every breath we took. The end was near. The end of the school year, that is; or so we thought! The nightmare that was about to weave it’s way through the fabric of our lives did not give a hint of its presence.

The days were already long. Evenings were spent in games played in and out of the buildings that made up our farm. It was around eight o’clock when a neighboring boy showed up on a tractor that pulled a wagon. Several boys from two other families were already perched on the wagon. “ Come on,” they called to the boys. “ Let’s go swimming! The water is warm and it’s a lot of fun!” Then mother intervened: “I don’t think so” she protested. “I will be worried!” “Mother, you are always worried,” I quickly interjected. “Let them go!”

My dream was long out of my mind. Besides, the dream had not revealed the manner in which this drama was going to unfold. One cannot stop living out of fear and uncertainties. There were no worries in my heart. Life was grand! At sixteen, life must be lived to the fullest.

And so it was that they joined their friends at the fateful gravel pit that was to claim the life of my beloved brother, my best friend. As the sun acquiesced dawn the telephone rang. We had a party line: one long and four short rings. There were many people on that party line. The call came from the neighbor one mile to the south. The gravel pit was on his property. There was urgency in his voice. “Come quickly. One of the boys is in trouble.” The oldest boy was out with the family truck. My parents jumped on the tractor and proceeded at a turtle’s pace , to make their way to the doomed sight.

I stayed behind with my two younger sisters, my little brother, and some of their friends. Our dog Lassy echoed our fears with a constant lament. It knew the smell of death was in the air. It mourned for the distressed body and the soul that was bidding adieu to this world. Her cry filled us with dread! I tried to use the telephone but was told to keep the line free, just in case…And so, the longest evening of my life passed, minute by minute.

At midnight, the neighbors brought in my mother. She was soaked to the waist and convulsions shook her entire body. The doctor soon arrived. He gave her an injection, something to calm her down.

My sixteen year old brother Fern, had drowned in the pit. My father remained at the scene. A rescue team had arrived. They were trying to recover the body. Finally at one o’clock my father returned. He did not shed a tear. His face was white as starch. It had no life. He suddenly looked very old.

My father had seen them pull Fern out of the water. It was not a pretty sight. It had been a difficult task for the diver. Unbeknown to us, the pit had been dredged and it was deep. The water was murky and cold. Even a good swimmer would have had a difficult time.

And so the end had come for him. No more school! No more exams! No one to carry my books! No more endearing nick names! I would be alone on the road to school! I would be lonely on the road of life!

My words to my mother would echo in my mind time and time again.: “Mother, you worry all the time! Let them go!” Had I cast a vote after the dream? Had I made a choice? Could I have changed what happened or was it predestined? I certainly shared some of the responsibilities in the drama that replayed itself that night! Some questions will never be answered! Mother, can you ever forgive me? Fern, dear brother I miss you so!

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