Posted by JerseyGirl3030, Jan 5, 2010. 1590 views. ID = 3082
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Around the trunk of a massive tree, there were two pink ribbons tied in puffy bows. A variety of pink, purple, and red candles decorate the twisted roots at the bottom. Inside two heart frames, beginning to rust, were the grinning faces of Caroline and Minneola. Their six year old twin lives were ended at the base of that tree next to their biological father.
“Something’s not right,” Amy whispered with the sharp pain in her stomach, “John!” she yelled for her husband “John!” She tried to get out of the recliner and the pain caused her to double over. Her husband came running into the room. 9-1-1 was called and the family was rushed to the hospital. After several hours Tressa Patricia was born two months premature. Carrie and Minnie had pictures taken with their new sister. They were very excited to become older sisters. Tressa was slightly smaller than John’s forearm when she was born. Amy had never seen John handle something as nervously as he handled his tiny premature daughter. Amy and John would take shifts spending days and nights with Tressa. John would take care of Carrie and Minnie one night and Amy would do it the next.
A frantic phone call came from John at three thirty in the morning four days after Tressa was born. Tressa needed emergency surgery to aide her in breathing. Amy leaped out of her bed and paced around her bedroom several times trying to decide what to do. Amy’s mother was due to be on a plane in several hours to meet Tressa and help out with the twins. Tears were streaming down Amy’s face, the girls had school in the morning and Amy didn’t want to drag them into the hospital to wait around a hospital. Amy bit her nails knowing that the longer she waited to make the decision the longer it would take her to get to her baby’s bed side. She lifted the phone and mentally went through her phone book. The last people she ever wanted to ask for help were most likely the only ones that could help her.
Amy had had her twins at a young age with a man who was as equally as young. Shortly after the twins were born it became apparent that their father was not a well man. The pregnancy had not been planned and it thrust Amy and their father into something neither were prepared for. When they were two months old his delusions got the best of him, while no longer able to distinguish between reality and non-reality he locked himself and the twins on the fire escape in the middle of February. That was the last incident that Amy felt she could handle. Her babies were threatened and she could no longer expose them to their father. It was the start to many involuntary commitments for their father. Unfortunately, his parents have felt that Amy had been the cause of his illness. They felt that Amy had pushed him to a breaking point. However, they had wanted to stay in their lives of his children. Amy had attempted to keep it limited because she wanted the girls to move on with a healthy male role model.
Unfortunately, Amy had no one else to turn to. She began dialing their number and hung up the phone. There was so much hatred toward her on the other end of that phone, and now she was going to ask them for help. She was hoping that their love for their grandchildren would supersede their hatred for Amy. Amy took a deep breath knowing that time was ticking away for Tressa, and she needed to be there for her newborn. It took several rings before the groggy elderly female voice answered the phone. In the background she heard coughing. Amy explained that her baby was sick and required a surgery, Amy apologized repeatedly and asked them to please get her children off to school and to receive them off the bus. Eleanor agreed. Amy was at the hospital with John while Tressa was getting surgery in an hour. Tressa’s surgery took several hours but went better than had expected. Tressa was going to have limited effect on her life in the future, and virtually none projected for adulthood Amy and John were so relieved. Amy called her home afterward to tell Eleanor that John would be returning to pick up Minnie and Carrie. Eleanor had talked Amy into taking the children for an overnight visit so that both Amy and John could stay with Tressa. Amy’s mother would be arriving the next day to help out. Eleanor explained that they got such little time with the girls and it would be such a great help to Amy. Reluctantly Amy had agreed. Amy had never forgiven herself for allowing that to happen.
As a teenager Tressa had researched and found the old newspapers from that fateful day. According to the reporters, the twins’ father had been released several days from a long term stay at the state hospital to the care of his parents. Amy had not been informed of his release, and at the time, had assumed he was still hospitalized from the last incident he had of paranoid delusions. When Eleanor brought the twins to her home for their overnight stay, their father was there, off his medications for several days. Tressa had wondered what it had been like for them. Tressa had wondered what it had been like for him to see them after six years. The murder suicide had been the result of a police stand-off. Tressa had never been able to talk to her mother about that day.
Tressa drives her mother once a month to the tree where the standoff occurred. Amy is in her 80s and can no longer drive herself. For the first five years Amy made it a point to go to the tree everyday. John and Amy’s marriage was strained severely as a result of the twins’ murder as well as the frequent visits. John had wanted Amy to focus on Tressa more and the twins less. Until Tressa was in high school Amy went weekly. Tressa was able to confront Amy with John’s support and Amy’s visit went to monthly. Tressa was surprised when her father passed away that Amy didn’t increase her visits to the tree instead she asked her daughter to take her to weekly visits to the cemetery where her husband and children were buried, and keep the visits to the tree to monthly.
Over the month Amy would collect items that she wanted to leave at the grave sites. For her husband she would leave fresh flowers and candles weekly. Her daughters she would collect ribbons, candles, tiny stuffed animals, and other little trinkets. There were two boxes Amy would put them in. On the way to her father’s grave Amy and Tressa would talk about old vacations and fond memories. At the grave Amy would talk to the headstone and tell John about the events that he had missed. She would clear out the flowers from the last visit and put new flowers in the grave vase. She would touch the engraved heart on the headstone at the end of her visit and close her eyes. Tressa wondered if she was attempting to sense John in some way. The short walk to the twins’ graves was always in silence. The twins were buried side by side just a few feet from John. Amy never visited the grave of the twins’ father. At the twins actual grave Amy would put flowers. She always told the girls she missed them.
At the tree Amy required assistance to get to the base. Tressa would leave her mother at the tree alone to talk to the girls. The first few times Tressa stayed to support her mother. Her mother mumbled apologies, cried, and asked for forgiveness. Her mother cleaned the old candles and put out new ones. She would dust off the picture frame and clean the dirt from the month’s weather. Amy puffed the bows on the tree. When they began to show signs of weathering she would replace them. She told Tressa she never wanted anyone to forget that her daughters were there. At first Tressa tried to soothe her mother during those times. She tried to tell her that she was not to blame for their death. She tried to tell her it was Eleanor’s fault or their father’s. Amy would remind Tressa that Amy was their mother and it was her job to protect them. Tressa would walk a few yards away where she could hear her mother call for her when she was ready to leave but be far enough to let her have her time of mourning. On the way home Tressa asked her mother why she spent so much time with the dead people in her life. She asked her why she couldn’t limit it and focus more on the living, members of her family. Amy responded, “I’m an old woman now Tressa. It’s natural that my life as I knew it is dying off, it will happen to us all. Just because these people have moved on, and are no longer living, does not mean that my responsibility to love them has moved on as well. By marriage or by birth my life was devoted to them. Just because theirs has ended and mine has not does not take that devotion away.” Copyright 2010 JerseyGirl3030. All rights reserved. FifteenMinutesOfFiction.com has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.
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