Just Smile

by Elizabeth Hall

It was a nice winter day that December 8th. The bell rang at school and I walked as fast as I could to get Victoria, she does safety patrol so I have an extra 5 minutes or so. The reason we had to walk that day was because mum was at court. We didn't mind it was a nice day so we were okay with walking, plus mum said she'd pick us up if she was done in time. So I made it to Woodman on time and met Victoria and we started walking. We kind of started to get a little hot walking with all of our winter gear on, but it wasn't too bad. We only live about 10 minutes away from woodman anyways so it's not like we had an hour walk or anything.

We were finally home; the weird thing was that the car was in the driveway. We got into the house after standing in the cold fumbling our keys for about 5 minutes. We got in, took off our coats and sat down to rest for a second; we noticed that our mums purse and shoes were at the door. I ran upstairs to see her and ask her how court went. When I got to the top of the stairs I could see her lying there, but she wasn't on the bed she was on the floor. There were papers and stuff sprawled on the floor so I thought she must have been trying to organize some stuff and feel asleep on the floor. So I went back downstairs and let Victoria know that she was upstairs sleeping, but Victoria the anxious 12 year old she was wanted to wake her up and ask her what was for dinner. So she went upstairs and tried to wake her up, she came running downstairs.

She then said "Liz I couldn't wake her up, she doesn't look very good either." So I raced upstairs and told Victoria to wait downstairs. This time when I reached the top of the stairs I hesitated to enter her room. I took the slowest steps into her room and looked at her lying on her side on the floor; she was blue and looked like she was freezing cold. Now I had received all of my first aid training and knew how to check for a pulse and knew what to do. So I yelled her name and banged on the floor, but I received no response. I waited what seemed like an hour and reached down to check for a pulse, but I found nothing. I panicked and ran downstairs trying to stay calm for Victoria's sake. She was crying and asked "what's wrong is she ok?"

So I picked up the phone and called Kristina, who was away at school in Waterloo at the time. She answered and I explained to her the situation, she yelled to me through the phone "hang up, call 911." So I did just that, I had to make the scariest phone call of my life. I dialed the numbers that have never been dialed on my phone, 9-1-1. The operator answered and asked me weather I needed Fire, Police or Ambulance, I didn't answer. She asked me again "hello 911 would you like fire, police or ambulance" I finally made a sound and cried "ambulance please." She re-directed me and the next operator came on and asked me my problem. I was crying very much by now but trying my hardest to stay calm for my sister, who was on the couch shaking and crying her little heart out. I explained what happened, how I found her. She replied with "do you know how to do CPR" I said yes, but would I be able to remember?

She told me to give the phone to Victoria while I go and try to give my mother CPR. I ran upstairs and sat down beside her, I froze, I couldn't remember anything, and nothing that I learned was coming to mind. But then I pulled myself together, but I was shaking and way to upset to move her onto her back. I ran back down and told the dispatcher that I couldn't do it, I just couldn't. She told me to stay calm and that help was on the way. She then said goodbye and I hung up. I ran outside in my bare feet to be ready to wave down the ambulance, I heard the sirens and then they pulled around the corner. They pulled up and right behind them were the police. The paramedics ran up to me and I pointed them in the direction of her room. Then the police officers came up to me and took me inside, I talked to them for about 10 minutes and they tried to calm me and my sister, but they couldn't.

It was then that slowly a paramedic walked down our stairs and walked over to me and said "Elizabeth would you like to sit down at the table with me for a minute." I stumbled over to the table and he said the word that will haunt me for the rest of my life. "Sweetie, I'm sorry but your mother has passed away, it looks like she has been gone since about 2, thank you for trying but there's nothing we can do." I stopped breathing, and then slowly glanced over to Victoria (who has asthma) her eyes were so wide and so full of tears that the image was burned into my head. Then the door flew open, it was Mr. Hayman, a very close family friend whom was like another grandparent to us. He walked over so calmly and wrapped his arms around Victoria, then me. We stood there for about 6 minutes and then my mums best friend walked in, she lived around the corner. She ran over and asked us if it was true. I said yes, it was. Her faced dropped and she too was shaking and crying.

She embraced me and she smelled just like my mum did which made me cry even more than before. The police officer took my sister and I outside where I could see all of our neighbors peeking out of their windows wondering what was going on. My sister needed to go into the ambulance because she was having an asthma attack. So I stood there, feeling more alone then I ever had in my entire life. I looked down the street and my uncle was here. My uncle Don and my mum were very close in age and were like best friends. He opened his car door and walked over to me and hugged me so hard. He then loosened up and looked at me then we resumed the hug. The only reason we broke our hug was because my grandparents pulled in. My grandma looked so much smaller than usual, she walked over and held me and then I walked over to my grandpa and he hugged me, they felt so much like my mum.

I walked over and asked the officer if I could go in the house and get Victoria's coat so that she wouldn't freeze, but he said that he wasn't sure. He directed me towards a man wearing all black whom he said was a detective. I walked up to the man and asked again if I could please get Victoria's coat. He peered down to me and replied with "no miss, I'm sorry I cannot let you in. If you describe the coat you would like, I will have an officer get them for you." That's when it hit me, when I couldn't enter my own home. Everything was different.

So I described the coats to an officer and he got mine and Victoria's coats. I took her coat to the ambulance because she was still receiving treatment for her attack. I put mine on slowly and walked over to my Uncle Don and whispered "I'm going to walk to the corner, I'll be right back." He nodded his head. I started to walk towards the corner and as I peeked back I noticed that a police officer was following a few steps behind me. We made eye contact and he said "I'm sorry but I cannot let you leave without police supervision." So I gave up on my walk and headed the 5 steps back to my driveway. When I returned home my Uncle Gord was there. He had the saddest look on his face, almost emotionless. We had all been out of the house for about 20 minutes and they came over and told me that I was going to be going to the police station in a cruiser for some questioning. So my sister and I got into the police cruiser, it was so small. I sat right beside Tor, so that I could hold her hand for the drive. It only took about 5 minutes to get there.

My grandparents, Uncle Don and Uncle Gord followed us to the station. We were escorted into a large room by a woman who was with Victim Services. Everyone sat but I couldn't, I just couldn't sit still. The lady said I could walk around the station with her if I wanted, so I did. I left for a couple of minutes and when I returned to the big room Victoria was gone, they told me that she went with a detective for some questioning, I asked if I could go to be with her but I wasn't allowed. I then had to wait in the room because I was next.

The detective came in and asked me to follow him. We went into a room with nothing on the walls but paintings that were colorless and bland. He started with asking me about myself; my age, what grade I was in, stuff like that. I answered all of his questions to the best of my ability. He escorted me back to the room with my family. I walked over and stood behind my grandparents for a moment and then decided that I would go and wait for Kristina to get there. SO Tor and I walked out to the front with the nice lady from Victims Services.

We waited only about 5 minutes and a car pulled up. My sister came running out and over to the doors. We opened them and we all stopped. We stared at each other then we all lost it. We all went back into the room with our Uncles and them in. We had to stay there for about another hour and then we were allowed to leave. But we couldn't go home. We went to Burford to stay with my grandparents; it was the longest drive we had ever taken to their house. We stayed with them and arranged all of the funeral stuff and where she was going to be laid to rest.

This was the hardest experience of my life, I would hope that it would never have to happen to anyone ever, but for those it does happen to, I'm sorry. Although this was a terrible experience it made me realize how important family and friends are. I never will appreciate a nice smile and hello more then I do now. So please, if you ever are walking down the street or the hallways, just smile, it may touch that person more than you know.

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