Are You There, Momma?

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1 Sydney Zerante Are You There, Momma? The telephone rang, but Father was passed out drunk on the couch like always. I skipped to the phone while Dustin watched Barney reruns. I answered the phone, assuming it was one of those telemarketers like always, but boy was I wrong. "Is this the Porter residence?" "Yes... May I ask who is calling?" "This is emergency care at St. Bernard's. There was a reported accident that your mother Cynthia was in. I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but she may not make it. I think you should come to the hospital immediately." As the phone call took place it was as if I was watching myself, like it could not have been real life. I couldn t be losing my mother! She and Dustin were all I ever had; my dad was a lost cause. I had to get Dustin and me to the hospital that very second. I raced over to the couch where dad was lying. I tried to wake him and started explaining, but there was no hope. He was bad that day, totally gone. So I packed up some clothes and took Dustin with me. The hospital wasn't far, so we walked. It was about 8:40 on that damp, warm summer night. When we got there, Mom was in a coma. Dustin didn't understand; he was only 3. I myself had just turned 11 about three weeks prior. Dustin kept trying to wake Mom. I did my best to explain but I could tell he just didn't understand. He eventually said he would wait till she woke up. But she never did... It was the longest five days of my entire life. I never even believed in God. Momma always did, but I just couldn't. How could someone "so loving" allow such horrific and evil things to happen. Like what he did to Momma -- she got stuck with a drunk for a husband, lost her job many times, and so much more. She was an amazing woman. She had a huge heart, worked hard, and had a good faith. Why would he get rid of the good people? Why take her away from me? I didn t get it. But during those five days I prayed and prayed, like the way Momma taught me. I even found the chapel in St. Bernard and prayed to Jesus.

2 Clearly God didn't hear me, or maybe he just didn't love me. I was hurt, mad, confused, and heartbroken. I lost the only parent and person I had. It was as if I had nothing anymore. But life had to try to go on. Dustin and I headed home, but it wasn't pretty when we got there. "WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU TWO?!?!" "Dad, Mom's dead... She was in an accident. We were at the hospital, I swear. She didn't make it." "You expect me to believe that? Haha, how would the kids know before the husband? Stop it; you're lying. Where were you!?" I could smell the alcohol on his breath, and I knew at that point he wasn't just going to even believe me. I somehow ended the conversation before he completely lashed out. And that night I took Dustin, we packed up, and we left. And this time we weren't coming back. The only problem was, where the heck were we going to go? I was only 11, and Dustin was just 3. But I had to find somewhere just for the night. I told Dustin we were going on an adventure. Soon enough we were walking near an old complex of apartments in the town of Jackson, Wyoming. A sweet old man, Mr. Nelson, was sitting on a rocker chair outside the complex. He asked us what two children were doing out walking around on their own at night. I began to explain all that we had gone through when I saw a look of pity in his eyes. He said he had an old room that his daughter stayed in before she died of cancer and that he would let us stay there if we needed. So in our time of need, that is what we did. He said he would also help us out if we needed anything. We opened the old, squeaky brown wooden door to our "new home." It was certainly in need of some dusting and cleaning. It smelled like a dead rodent. Dustin immediately ran to the bedroom, which consisted of a queen-size bed. I couldn't help but laugh, because as he jumped on it, dust burst into the air. It was as if the bed was smoking a cigarette. I put the few things we brought in a drawer, along with the cash we took from our father s wallet. After Dustin was fast asleep in bed, I sat on the porch looking into the starry night sky above infinite mountains. Momma, are you there? If you are, I miss you. Are you in heaven, Momma? Is God real? I hope you re in some kind of wonderful place. I also hope you are happy. I just wish you didn t have to leave us. I promise you, though, I will take good care of Dustin. I will raise him well. I will try to fill your shoes and show him love and that he can do anything he sets his heart to like you taught me. But I will need your help, Momma. I love you I decided that night that I had to become a mother to Dustin. I had to do everything I could. I may have been only 11, but I had no choice, for we were all each other had. I found a public school in Jackson and daycare only two buildings down from the 2

3 school. During the school day Dustin would stay at the daycare center, which was ran by Mrs. Campbell. She was a very lovely lady; she allowed Dustin to stay there free of charge and found little chores for me to do. That way I could make some money as well. Time went on, and I was a sophomore, age 16, at Rocky Mountain High. Dustin was 8 years old already. Dustin understood what happened and why we had to go off on our own. He wasn t resentful of me, thank goodness. But I could never stop feeling guilty for the simple fact that I had many more years with Mom than he ever did. I was in my prime, the teenage years, and let me tell you it was hard enough being a teen girl and not having a mom, but it was harder not having a father either and having to be a mom yourself for your baby brother. Around that time I got my license, which helped tremendously. I decided on taking Dustin to a small Catholic Church about 13 blocks from our little apartment, which by that time looked honestly pretty decent. I had blamed God for so long because he took away the only thing I had in life, my mom. But during these years I missed my mom so much. I needed her guidance on everything it seemed like, and it was so frustrating. I figured with the faith that she had maybe if I tried to gain a faith she and I would be able to connect or I would be able to feel her around me. As church became a routine in our lives, and so did praying. I learned about a form of prayer called intercessory prayer. It was where I prayed to someone in heaven to talk to God for me. I prayed to my mom. I mean, after all, being so great she had to be in heaven, right? "Momma? Are you there? It's me, Katrina. Momma, I miss you. I need you, Dustin needs you. Momma, I'm halfway through high school. They are talking about preparing for college. I can't and shouldn't go... Should I? I can't just leave Dustin; he is only 8. And oh, I wish you were here, I met a sweet boy. He is new at school. His name is Kendrick. He has been helping get Dustin to school and even came over last night and helped me cook dinner for him. Oh, how I wish you could be here. Miss you. Love you always..." I began talking to my mom a lot during those next few years.i always started out the same with the "Are you there, Momma?" I never really knew if she was. I wanted her to be, but I never felt her. Ever. In the spring of my senior year at Rocky Mountain High, Mr. Nelson passed away. He and Dustin had really gotten close over the years we stayed in his apartment complex. Mr. Nelson was truly like a father to him. He loved having Dustin around and cared about him greatly. Of course, losing him was very hard for Dustin, but we sort of knew it had to be coming Mr. Nelson was 97 years old and had been slowing down greatly more and more each day. It was his time to go. I told Dustin that he joined Momma in heaven and that they 3

4 would wait for us for join them someday. But the truth really was that I wanted that to be true, but I wasn't so sure. Mr. Nelson, being the incredible soul he was, left us the rights to stay in his apartment complex for as long as we wanted. And his nephew came out to Wyoming to run it. He was much like his uncle, a very wise, caring man. This really made Dustin happy. Because of all of what happened, I did make the choice of not going away to college. Instead I worked two jobs, one being a waitress at the pizza parlor downtown in Jackson and the other as a secretary for a business firm. A few years later when I was 22 years old and Dustin was 14, I was still working for the business firm but full-time now. I had made some really great friends and even began seeing a guy who just moved to Wyoming and worked for the firm as well. I m sure you know he was handsome in every single way. Dark haired but not too long-haired, but also not the super-short style, lean yet still strong. And he had a perfect smile, one that on the worst day could make it feel like the best. And his hazel eyes that had speckles of gold when the sunlight hit them. Along with being handsome, so was his personality. He was witty, caring, and sarcastic, and he became my best friend. I may not have had as long as I would have liked with this man, but I will forever be in his heart... Colton. My dearest Colton. Hi, I know this seems insane, but I watch over you each and every day. I m giving this to you and telling you my story because you are where I was after I lost my mom. You are angry, scared, hurt, numb, and so much more. I m here, baby, I m right here. I know you couldn t feel me, but I was in the wind that kissed your face on those early autumn days. I was in the tulip smell in the spring that reminded you of me. I m here; just accept that I am and you ll feel me. But most importantly, Colton, I am in your heart. I know that you did not know all those things. I didn t tell you because I never knew where to start, and I didn t want to return to the past. But you needed to know. I m with you Colton. I will watch over you. And there s one more part to the story I must share.. The day I got here, I was standing alone and asked that famous question, Momma? Are you there, Momma? And after in the shadows, I watched as she walked towards me with her arms a reach, finally welcoming me home. Colton, she was there. and you must know, so am I. I m awaiting the day I may be truly with you again until then, I love you. Go and be happy. Always, Your Wife, Katrina ********************* 4

5 I woke up to Lucy barking at the paperboy. So, I rolled out of bed and made my coffee. With the coffee in hand I went to grab the mail and paper like always. I sat down at the counter and began looking: bills, bills, and more bills, and then I saw a smaller looking gold-colored envelope with an incredible seal on the back. My curiosity was alerted, and I opened it. But the last thing I expected it to be was a letter from my wife who had now passed away one year, three months, and 22 days ago. A letter sent from heaven. That letter changed my life. It set my worries free. She was watching over me, she loved me, and she was still here. Katrina will forever be my hope and my rock. For even if she can t live here on earth physically with me, she will forever live within me. 5

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