I’ve been blocked on this since before Christmas. I’ve decided to go ahead a post about the end of the story; hopefully I’ll be able to write more about the middle once I’ve gotten through this.
A few days before Christmas, when I was 12 and he was 14, Stephen came over after dinner, and Mom said we could play in our backyard. My sister came outside with us, and we looked around for something to do. Stephen went to the fence and pulled a vine from it, and started dancing around with it, waving it in the air. My sister and I joined in — Stephen could make even playing with vines fun. As we were dancing around and laughing, not paying attention to what we were doing, the vine Stephen was holding whipped around and hit my sister in the face. She cried out in pain, dropped her vine, and ran to the house.
I was torn. I knew my first priority was to go with my sister, but I wanted to stay and play with Stephen. I knew I had to go in, though. I was afraid we’d get in trouble for pulling off the vines and playing with them, though they were just weeds, not something my Dad had planted.
Finally, I threw down my vine and started after my sister. “Go home, Stephen!” I said, angry that I had to go in.
I got in the house and my sister was fine. We weren’t in trouble for playing with the vines, and all was well.
Christmas Eve morning, very early, the phone rang. My Dad answered and said “Just a minute.” He handed the phone to my mother, who talked briefly, then handed the phone back to him to hang it up.
“What is it?” Dad asked.
“Stephen died” Mom said.
“Oh no” my Dad said. “It’s a tragedy.”
“Yes, it is” Mom said.
My sister said “Lisa?”
“I heard” I answered, my throat closing up.
A few minutes later, my Mom came in the room, wearing her robe, her eyes red. “Girls…” she started, sitting on my bed.
“We heard” I said, sitting up and throwing myself into her arms, crying. My sister gone on my bed, hugging her and crying also.
Stephen had been in the hospital. He had wanted to go to school for so long, his parents had finally agreed to let him go for his freshman year in high school. I didn’t know it until then, but he had hemophilia, and had been born with pretty much no immune system, so he caught everything that was going around. He caught chicken pox, and they put him in the hospital immediately. One of the lesions burst in the night, and he had bled to death.
That afternoon, my parents, sister, and I went to his home to see his parents. It was the hardest thing I had done. We walked through the kitchen; there were several people there, but I don’t remember who they were. In the den, the other woman sat on the sofa with a couple of Stephen’s male friends; we didn’t speak to them.
Stephen’s Mom was in his bedroom; his Father sat on the bed in the guest room beside Stephen’s. As we walked into Stephen’s room, Dad walked in to speak to Mr. G. Mrs. G looked up and saw us; my sister and I threw ourselves into her arms, sobbing, as she hugged us and said through tears “He loved you girls so much!” Mom spoke to her briefly, and we went home.
Stephen’s funeral was on Christmas Day, and my parents decided we’d miss the funeral and go to my Grandparents’ house for Christmas as usual. They had to wake me up Christmas morning to open presents from Santa, and once we got to my Grandparents’ home, I went back to sleep; they had to wake me for dinner and for opening gifts. I have no memories of the gifts or anything except for my Father telling my Grandparents “Oh, yes, Mary died” (referring to the wife of a good friend of his). Stephen’s mother was also named Mary, and I said “Mary didn’t die, Stephen did!” My sister explained to me my mistake, and I went back to sleep.
At the next rehearsal with Rainbow Girls, in which I had recently been initiated, several of the girls were whispering. I heard my name and looked up, and one of the girls asked “Lisa, did you know that DeMolay who died?” My throat closed up again. I nodded, then told them “Yes, he was my friend. My best friend.”