Greater Than Us All

Created by inaudiblesymphony on Sunday, April 08, 2012

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I came to a stop where the road met the reddish brown wood of my favorite spot in Winchester. It was a bridge, bending bravely over the rocky rapids of Merrimac River. There was a thick bed of moss that just barely crept along the side of the damp wood. Small white flowers dared to sprout up through its cracks and cavities along with spots of green grass here and there.

When it was first built, cars used it as a quicker way of getting into town, but it soon began to sag and the city deemed it unsafe for vehicles. Cars took the long way into town, and it was left for nature to take its course.

The bridge had an infamous past and people rarely crossed it on foot. Two high school kids had jumped, sending their lives into the hands of the white rapids that wouldn’t spare a soul. The two deaths had both occurred more than 10 years but to the town, the bridge only held the reminder of death and loss.

To me, the bridge was beautiful. I saw it as a sanctum, totally quiet except for the sound of the violent water below my feet. I came here to think as often as I could. When my brother was out playing or with friends, the bridge was where I came to escape.

After my mother was diagnosed with cancer, nothing was really the same. I missed school whenever there was a change in her condition, or days when I just couldn’t stand leaving her. At first it was only small things: faltered breathing, coughing, stopping in her tracks and holding her chest before forcing a smile to relax my worried face.

But far too soon, her conditions began to worsen. The coughing grew more and more violent and she started spending entire days in bed. She refused to get chemotherapy and wouldn’t acknowledge that her condition was worsening, but I could see how much pain she was in by the way she put her head in her hands and squeezed her eyes shut.

My father rarely left the house. He would stay by my mother’s side for hours on end, holding her hand and stroking her hair. On rare occasion, he would tell me to get my mother some water or a blanket, his eyebrows deeply knitted together, barely looking my direction. Or tell me to check on my brother with a wave of his hand.

I would often find him in his study at night, frowning blankly at nothing, clutching a glass of liquor in his hand. While my mother’s condition continued to worsen, he grew colder and began drinking more heavily.

The states that my parents were in left me as the only one able to comfort and take care of my brother. Almost every night, he would quietly slip into my room and crawl in bed next to me. I explained to him that Mommy might have to leave and that meant Dad couldn’t be there for us like he used to, but no matter what, I would be there for him. I would feel his head nodding against my shoulder that he was leaning on. Although he couldn’t understand what was happening to our mom and dad, he did understand that.

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