book2I’m afraid that things have changed lately. It was the morning after Halloween when I got the news that my cousin had died in a car accident. 4 AM? 5? I don’t remember but it was terrible news and a terrible day. But I don’t just remember hearing the news, I remember the entire morning before that too.

I woke up with a slight hangover and Ryan and I started to recap the night.

“It was such a blast! Our Santa outfits were a hit,” I mumbled while he inhaled to ease his headache.

“It’s true, but the night definitely gets hazy after a while.”

I sighed and naturally looked for my phone to find something to spark my memory of how exactly the night had ended. The phone wasn’t there—panic! Did it get left in a drunken stupor? Oh great.

Against my better judgment of continuing to sleep a few more hours, I got up to search the apartment. The phone turned up on the living room table. It was off so I naturally thought the battery died but it turned on easily.

My phone was turned off the night prior; apparently the phone had been ringing nonstop at 6 AM and someone turned the phone off so it wouldn’t wake anybody.

My phone immediately began to buzz and I had a couple of text messages. I had a “Call back” text with a phone number—but I didn’t recognize it. I then got a text from Ryan’s mother asking me to call my mom, she said it was really important. Then everything got really heavy around me. I knew then to call the number back, I wasn’t surprised when it was my cousin Michael at Colleen’s house. He told me my mother wasn’t there and to call her cell phone or my cousin Patricia. He said that they would know what to tell me.

I accepted everything that happened around me as if it were truth, though I did not understand any aspect of it. I called my mother and she answered the phone on the third ring.

“Hi. I’m driving, I’ll call you back as soon as I stop,” she muttered.

I lose my stomach and respond, “Is something wrong?”

“Yes. I’ll call you back.”

“Tell me.”

“Matthew Dalling was in a fatal car accident last night.”

“Okay. Call me when you stop.”

“Okay.” I was paralyzed.

Winter 2011