Disney Vacation - My Family Travels

   I still remember the sound. If I close my eyes, I can still hear it- the heartbreaking shrieks of unbearable grief. Those cries shattered the suburban night air like the tragedy that shattered our lives. The screams I heard were the cries of my mother when she learned of my father’s death. A Cleveland police detective, Daddy had been killed in the line of duty after he sustained several gunshot wounds to the chest.

   We did not go to Disney World that week as we had planned. Instead of spending quality time with Donald and Goofy, we grieved our father. Daddy loved fatherhood, and he devoted almost all his time to family. That week though, he was alone, a pile of tissue and bone with nothing more than a casket to rest in and a flag to keep him warm.

   I still remember seeing him in his casket and how he felt. When my lips touched his hand in a final kiss good-bye, his skin felt stiff and cold, like a thick piece of rubber. His casket was lined with drawings we had colored for him. Those were the drawings that should have been hanging on the refrigerator, the drawings that should have depicted us as a happy family in Disney World, but were instead pictures of Daddy as an angel in Heaven.

   For years we were tormented by our own emotions. We became bitter toward each other as a way to express our sadness. My brother, sister, and I often fought physically, while we suffered mentally. Before my mother got diagnosed with post traumatic stress, she would yell at us and tell us we were useless and lazy. She complained that she was a slave in her own home even though we were still small children. I frequently suffered from nightmares of men with guns and my mother dying.

   Recently, however, we began a new chapter in our lives. My freshman year in high school, we engaged in bold, mischievous behavior. My family took time off school to go to Disney World. We spent well-earned time together, time that should have been spent years ago. For the last night we spent in Florida and for all the others that followed, we were finally content to be a family of four. As we watched the glittering fireworks light up the Magic Kingdom, my mother told us Daddy was watching. It was then that I knew that he was happy, content knowing we were together. 

   It was raining outside. Daddy liked it when it rained. The other day we had been picking tomatoes and cucumbers for Mommy to make a salad for dinner. Mommy was mad because it was thundering, and we weren’t supposed to play outside when there was thunder. If it had been up to Daddy, we would have stayed outside forever. That’s how much he liked the rain. Now I was inside, watching Daddy from my sister’s room. He was in the driveway, looking up from his blue truck. I liked to ride in the blue truck. We always rode in it together, just the two of us. I helped him grocery shop. Not this time though. This time he told me I wasn’t allowed to come. He said he was never coming back. Mommy was screaming. I had never heard Mommy scream like that before. It wasn’t a mad scream, like when you accidentally cut off all your sister’s hair. No, this was a sad scream, and it was a bad sound. I wanted it to stop. I woke up.

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