the night it happened.

When I was 19, I got engaged to
pretty much the first boyfriend
I ever had. He was kind of a jerk, really,
but not only did I not realize that then,
but I would have put up an astounding
argument against that threory had
anyone given me reason.

R and I kind of drifted away a bit.
She had a job waitressing and was still
going to school. I was assistant manager
at a record store. She had her friends
and I had mine. Yet, we could still get
together and it would be like nothing
had changed.

The guy that I was engaged to (who
will herein be referred to as "J"...
not because his name started with a J
but because he was a Jerk with a
capital J) was kind of a jerk.
We spent the summer of 1990 fighting,
much the same as the summer before.
We broke up and got back together more
than Tommy Lee and Pamela. People
at our local hangout, the Seven Eleven,
were literally taking bets on how long each
reunion was going to last.

This one weekend, we were broken up. I
was getting to the point that I was no longer
ready to commit suicide while sitting home
by the phone waiting for him to forgive me
for whatever trivial error I had committed.
Instead, I was planning on getting drunk.

So, the night it happened, I was drunk.
I had drank 4 wine coolers and that was
alot for a 98 pound weaking like I was.
I was commisserating my rotten life
and getting upset about being hit on by
J's best friends when someone told me
the phone was for me.

And it was my mom.

And she said there had been an accident.

And that R had been killed.

And I refused to beleive her. I shut down.
I don't know what happened after that.
I know that one of the guys that was at the party
took me home.

My brother was with R when it happened.
There were four of them. They went for a walk
at about ten at night, as we had done so many times
before. A guy that we knew from our area had pulled
over on the wrong side of the road to talk to them.
A car came from the opposite direction and
because the driver was drunk, he couldn't put
together what he was seeing. He didn't know where
the other car was and so...
he drove straight through the ditch.

He killed two of the girls.

My brother and another girl had run the other way.

The driver did not even realize immediately that
he had hit anyone, much less two people. Much
less that he had killed two people. During the
trial, his passenger admitted that initially they
had made a joke about it...

When I got to my parent's house that night,
my brother was laying on the couch,
repeating over and over what he
had seen. I held him and said
"its ok...its ok...its ok..."
over and over.

We had to go to the hospital. I held him all the way
there. They sedated him. While I sat in the waiting
room, I watched R's parents come from identifying
their daughter...

When we got home, I started to freak out a bit.
Up until this point, my whole focus had been my brother...
making sure he held together, making sure he was ok.
But when we got home, I remember standing in the kitchen,
and my voice beginning to escalate as I began to realize
what the hell had happened, as it began to sink into my skin...
my mother gave me a sleeping pill.

I slept in my parents water bed that night. I had a
dream that R was ok...that something had happened,
but that she was was going to be ok...and I was
so happy...I knew something bad had just been
narrowly averted...

In the dream, her legs were broken but she was ok.

In the dream, I was carrying her as we walked back
and forth from my house to hers, singing at the top
of our lungs and trying to annoy the neighbors.

And then I woke up.

And it hit me again....

I don't ever ever ever remember ever feeling as empty
as I did all through the process. I was completely empty.
I was a void. I felt nothing except vast incomparable
huge silent emptiness. I was devoid of anything.
I didn't speak to anyone. I couldn't. I had nothing to say.
All I had were echoes and silence.