August 16, 2008

Allowing myself to share and to re-experience this trauma is terrifying. But 8 years later, I am praying it blesses your life and it allows you to feel a little stronger and stand a little taller.

I grew up with my little brother, who is 2 and a half years younger, and my uncle who was 4 years older than me. We used to play hide and go seek(in the dark because that’s the only way to play right?), cops and robbers and most of the time we would end up fighting because that’s what big brothers do best right? He would make me so mad for all the pranks and fights we would get into and all the different rules he would change last-minute, but when he was in trouble with grandma or when he had nowhere to go, my mom took him in and we learned to grow up with him.

My mom was in the living room of our two bedroom apartment in Katy, Tx. She was currently enrolled in online classes at Phoenix University.

I don’t remember what my 11 year old brother was doing, because I only know my experience, and he has never spoken of his.

I was praying in my mom’s room. Writing and listening to a third day song- which I have blocked out because the pain from this night was too much so I cannot remember the exact song anymore.

Mom’s phone rang.

And then there was crying and crying and questions. and crying.

I turned off the music and waited.

She came into the room- “Edwin was shot… my little brother is gonna die.”

I didn’t know what else to do because I was 14… not an adult who had experience with someone dying and being shot, just a 14 year old who was starting high school in a week. So I did what 14 year old’s do best and I called my best friend Lisa. And I told her what I knew, and in a few minutes, my brother and I were being dropped off at her house to stay with her family while mom came to Boxelder rd. to help.

I don’t remember much else from this night. Except that my brother clinged to me and we prayed together before going to sleep that my uncle would survive. And that we would get to see him the next morning. I had full faith that I was going to wake up the next day okay.

only to be woken up with the worst news my family has ever received till this day.

I arose from Lisa’s bed, got my brother ready, and waited for mom to come get us. My heart felt like it was no longer beating- and this feeling continued for months after. My breathing slowed and knots formed in my throat, and stayed.

I remember crying in the car, and hearing mom and a family friend talk about me as if I wasn’t in the back. I had entered a completely separate world and I was now watching myself experience this trauma. Too much for me to bear, I took the backseat in my life and watched everything around me crumble. My brother never said a word, never blinked, never reacted, and never asked anything. He just sat still and allowed the chaos around him to swirl.

walking into my now home- then grandma’s house,  the eerie dark atmosphere that surrounded my home was an indescribable one… I could not catch a breath because the darkness and sadness and death was so tangible in the air… it was better to not breathe.

There was bullet casings in the grass that the cops missed and blood stained cement that Marvin was attempting to clean up. That spot by the front door stayed dark for months after until it was finally washed away and covered by the seasons.

And all i heard was crying, and screaming, and the questions in my head grew louder and the anger began to stir. I didn’t understand because I had prayed & I was nice to my brother & I was a good daughter by listening to mom when she dropped me off in the middle of the night in another home instead of letting me be by her side. I had asked God to save him and to protect him and I woke up the next morning, with a God who didn’t hear me.

My grandma was empty inside and all she did was scream and ask for her son, who was dead. who had died in our front door. Whose life was taken from us in the comfort of our own home.

The next days weren’t any better. And his room was cold and empty, lacking in life and in humor. His voice, his loud obnoxious raps, and chopped and screwed music, the room was silent, gone.

And then came the people. And the people sucked. Because they whispered and they asked questions and they gave opinions and theories, without being asked.

And some sat quietly in the living room, and their silence reminded me that this was the worst thing that had happened to my family, in the comfort of our home. I wanted everyone gone and I wanted answers.

So I sat by the front door.

And I waited.

Because I refused to believe that he was gone. Any minute now, he would walk in through the door and punch me and call me a “peon” and sit to eat Doritos…. or cocoa pebbles, which till this day, my grandma still buys.

Then came the wake and though I thought I had experienced the worst, this was worse than worst.

His body slowly changed colors and his fingers lost life and they hardened. And I could no longer stand at the front to hold his hand because it was no longer him, the life had left and all that we were left with was a strange body.

I experienced my first panic attack this day.

As I grabbed his hand and it was harder than the day before.

So I hate funerals. 8 years later and I refuse to look at lifeless bodies. Because of him. Loving someone, robbing fake banks together, giving my little brother wegies, putting ointment on his wounds from fights with grandma, and then suddenly seeing them lay lifeless. And as you call their name, they still don’t get up?

I would stand for long periods and I would hold his hand and pray. And I would demand that he get up and walk, but it never happened. And soon his body became so cold that I was no longer allowed to go up to the casket because I could not mentally handle it. Different family members would hold me down in the bench. It didn’t make sense to me.

He never walked through door. And he never got up.

I still consider this the event that changed my family forever. My grandma still cries. My brother barely speaks, and I am never home. We have never experienced a death so close to home- figuratively and literally. So it’s still rubble we’re figuring out. I can’t see guns or hear balloons pop without my heart beating faster. There’s not a night in which I don’t look around me a million times before walking into my house. Black SUV’s scare me, I run if they drive by. My German Shepherd does not do well with fireworks because he was also here with the gunshots and the chaos of the police and the entire Boxelder street.

But the best thing is that, today, I know God is still good. He did hear my prayer and he took care of my family because we didn’t fall apart. We are still breathing. And there is an unshakable bond between mom, brother, and myself. We saw hell and death, and have been able to live life for 8 years, maybe with a few faults but nonetheless live.

And though we never found the killer, and I don’t quite understand- I choose to believe that God turns bad to good.

Not sure if this speaks to you, but I choose to believe that I have a God who has a plan bigger than what I can understand. He is not surprised nor is he moved by the events of our lives. I pray that in every situation, you choose to see the good, and that even though you prayed and you asked for a different outcome- know that He did indeed hear, He holds our words close to his heart and whispers them to none.

I am stronger today. I know what its like to lose, and to eventually rise again and stand tall. I no longer cry every day and now, I can share his story, in the hopes that it will bless many lives. I only share this so that you know you are not alone. We all have situations we don’t understand and trauma happens. But what you do after is what matters. And I pray that you always choose to stand and continue in the fight. This life is good and we are blessed to be able to feel so deeply and to experience love.

I wish you would have had the opportunity to meet him. He was misunderstood. A basic Alief raised young man- looking for a place to belong because his family was broken at home. But with such great potential and intelligence.

Eight years later and here is my experience of August 16th, 2008.

Missing you forever Ed.

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