This week's Mama Kat's writing prompt that I chose was "A phone call you won't forget".
"Wait, what?! You want me to call her and tell her?! I...How? I can't do this....Tell her?.. Oh my God." This is what I said to the director of my parents school when he asked me to call my sister and tell her the devastating news that our parents had died but the cause of death was unknown. How the f**k was I going to do that? I didn't even understand it myself, how could I possibly explain it to her?
It was a Sunday night or rather 2AM on Monday morning. I just had a very fun and exciting first weekend living in Phoenix, Arizona. Two close college girlfriends had driven down from Tucson, to spend the weekend with me. Two long nights out in the Phoenix club scene ensued. Coupled with plenty of cocktails and not enough sleep, I was exhausted and ready for Monday. I had an exciting job interview at 10AM and was psyched to begin my new Phoenix adventure. Having just graduated from college, I felt more than ready to start this new chapter of my life. Little did I know that that very same weekend across the world in North Africa, my parents had died. It's an intense sentence. I still can't believe the words that come out of my mouth.
When the phone rang that awful night, I'll never forget the awful sinking feeling I had in the pit of my stomach. When I looked at my phone light up, I instantly knew it was an overseas call and I had a feeling it was from Tunisia, where my parents were living at the time. I quickly answered the call that was to be my worst nightmare. It was Patrick, the director of my parents school in Tunis. He proceeded to very calmly and rationally tell me that my parents had just been found in their home and they were "gone". Yes, "gone" was his word of choice.
Needless to say, I don't really remember much else about this conversation. All I knew is that he had my sister's wrong number so I was given the nearly impossible responsibility of breaking the news to her.
I had to call her.
My world was quickly plummeting to the ground. Now I had to be the one to change my sister, Tonya's world forever too.
After I hung up the phone, I mentally prepared myself to call Tonya. But I didn't want to be alone...ever again. I frantically picked up a Kleenex box off my kitchen table, my cell phone, a pad of paper, a pen and my keys. I walked out the door of my apartment building to my friend Tracy and Lindsey's apartment which was thankfully just down the hallway. Tracy was and still is my dear friend and I needed her at that moment. I'm not sure how I got there but I finally did. I banged on their front door. They answered it together and I'm sure they could tell by my flushed cheeks and disheveled appearance that something was very wrong. "My parents are gone.. I can't do this... What am I going to do now? They think my parents are dead," I managed to blubber out. The girls instantly started crying and asking me questions I didn't have the answers to yet. "I have to call Tonya and Todd now." Tracy asked if I wanted her to call them for me. I said no, I had to be the one to do it.
So, the three of us sat together on their living room couch, with me in the middle with their arms wrapped around me. I slowly breathed in and out a few times and thought of Tonya asleep in bed next to her husband of only three short months still happy and content in that world where I was too up until 20 minutes ago. I hated having to grab her from that wonderful world. But I had to.
There was certainly a part of me that couldn't handle being alone with this information any longer. I needed her. I needed my sister.
I dialed Tonya's number. She didn't answer. I called her husband Todd's cell phone. He answered. "Hi Todd. I'm sorry it's so late." He said, "That's OK Leah. What's wrong?" "Todd, I don't know how to say this... Something has happened. I need you and Tonya to both listen to me." I took a deep breath and fought back the tears. I took Tracy's hand with my free hand and held on tightly. "Mom and Dad have died. The director of their school just called me. They don't know anything..." I could hear the tears forming in Tonya and Todd's voices. I felt a small sense of relief. It was done, they knew. I wasn't alone anymore. I told them to call Patrick. He was expecting their call and would try answering their questions. Tonya said that she would call me back with more information. Before hanging up, she asked me to stay with Tracy and that she loved me very much. We were both hoping this wasn't true and that a massive misunderstanding had just happened. All I knew is that she would call Tunis and figure everything out. Our questions would soon be answered, at least some of them.
Hearing the news that my parents had died will always remain the worst moment of my life, but definitely the hardest thing that I've ever had to do was making that phone call and sharing this news with my sister and brother in-law. I hope she feels like I did as good of a job as anyone could do under the circumstances. I sometimes wonder if she would have rather heard it from someone else. I worry that whenever I call her, she is nervous that I'm calling to give her bad news. Would I have preferred to have heard this from her? I'm not really sure. A sad phone call is a sad phone call no matter who does the calling. If anything I wish that I could have somehow spared Tonya this new world without our parents just as she wishes she could have spared me from it.