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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jared Whately Prep p.13


A full moon on a sleepless night.             dee
My brother, Jared, was killed on the night of his graduation from Whately Prep.  His girl-friend survived the crash, but she is confined to a wheel-chair and has to live with the knowledge that she played a part in his death.  I have worked hard at learning to forgive her.  I have not fully succeeded.   I had another week of school before summer vacation.  I had plans to nanny for a family from Amherst.  They had a house on Nantucket and I was going along.  That all changed.  Jared’s death changed the course of my life.  
I can not sleep tonight. My thoughts and memories are swirling in and out. Sleep seems just out of reach.  Impatiently, I swing my feet to the floor and get up to change my nightgown; it is soaked through with perspiration.  I choose the softest one in my drawer, an ancient sleeveless silk gown from Hanro. 
I hear one of the children when I am in the bathroom.  I peek in their rooms.  The boys are both asleep on their stomachs.  One of them has a sweet little rattle as he breaths out, not quite a snore.  The noise is coming from Sarah’s room.  In two years, I can count the number of times she has slept through the night.  I am too tired, worn out, ragged, to exercise the strict no-child-in-my-bed to which many people subscribe.  I pick her up. She wraps her legs around me. Her crying subsides immediately. She hiccups, then a final sob ripples through her. Sarah puts her head on my shoulder.  I inhale her salty tears and sweet Johnson and Johnson scent.  I carry Sarah back to my bed. As soon as I put her down, she crawls close to Declan.  Instinctively, he puts a protective arm around her and they both settle deeper into sleep.  I, on the other hand, see Jared. 
He is seat-belted into place, unable to release the catch, trying not to breathe water. 
Despite his best efforts, his body reflexively takes a gasp. Rather than getting nitrogen,
oxygen and carbon dioxide, Jared inhales hydrogen and oxygen.  It has been twenty-five years and I compulsively replay my version of what happened that morning at 4a.m..  Gerta escaped the depths of the river despite damage to her spine; it broke upon impact when she hit the steering wheel. 
I refocus my thoughts on more pleasant things.  It takes all of my effort, but I manage to summon the face of Carl Lattner.  I smile at the memory.  He has been a good friend.  Never a cross word has passed between us.  I imagine climbing the rickety rungs of a ladder we nailed into a tree.  Three boards were slung into the crotch of a chestnut tree; we called it our tree house.  My muscles twitch.  Sleep is settling in at last.  I find myself in the tree with Carl, sharing a peanut butter sandwich.  

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