A story about extreme grief. It looks at it from the perspective of a young man in college who loses almost everything of worth to him.
It began to rain; not like that down pouring that drowns out reality, but that tender rain whose chill reminds you that you’re still alive and life is still real. Aaron, wanting the rain to wash what was left of his broken soul away, stood in disbelief. The crunched metal and debris, the flaming engine, and the smell of burnt rubber shattered his attempts to break away from the real world and left him with the stark reality that his parents and two brothers were dead. The realization struck him repeatedly, and the pain in his stomach became still sharper and deeper. It was as though someone had stabbed him with a knife, refusing to relent; taking whatever life was left in him. Brawny and spirited he wanted to wreck something, but his devastation gutted him; it cut out his resolute spirit and stole it.
A social worker arrived and started working with the police as to how to approach Aaron, and to figure out what Aaron’s next move should be. Aaron didn’t care what happened to him now; he just existed. His knees buckled and he fell to the ground, his long auburn hair covered his face. His blue, bloodshot eyes stung with tears and fumes. He thought nothing and he wished he felt the same. He could not believe and at the same time tried so hard not to believe that his entire family had just died. Crushed, Defeated, Overcome, Devastated, Overwhelmed- no words would suffice to describe his state of being. And so Aaron closed his eyes and, falling over, simply let the weight of his grief crush him.
“Aaron,” a voice called out in the darkness; Aaron began to surface, “Aaron! Aaron, you’re alive.” Aaron sat up and stared bewildered into his Aunt Olivia’s eyes. “You’re alive,” she repeated as though she was trying to communicate some hidden meaning to him. After a few seconds Aaron’s mind surfaced with him and the realization of recent events hit him hard. He would have blacked out again if his aunt hadn’t stopped him. “Aaron, look at me. Look at me!” She stared intensely into Aaron- as though she wasn’t looking at his eyes, but rather his heart, seeing what hurt him- studying it. “You’re alive, you know.”
“And they’re not!” Aaron roared back. He began to cry. Olivia hugged him and cried with him. After a few minutes she continued.
“You’re wrong. They’re not here with us, but they aren’t dead.”
“I know, I know. But that doesn’t change what happened,” he choked over his words, “And I didn’t even to get to say goodbye.” Olivia looked at Aaron tenderly.
“This isn’t goodbye. You’ll see them again,” she looked at him more earnestly, and her tone progressed from condolent to solemn, “This is going to hurt for a long time. And I’m afraid you can’t hide from it.” Aaron, prostrate, held himself. What was he now? He was so invincible before- so strong. “God will give you strength to face this. The rest of the family will be here soon. Please don’t hurt yourself more by refusing them. You cannot endure this on your own- I know. When your Uncle Harvey died I couldn’t make it one day without the help of friends, family, and God.” Aaron was glad for his aunt coming. Outside of his own family he had been closest to his Uncle Harvey and Aunt Olivia, and since his family and Uncle Harvey had passed away, Aunt Olivia was now his closest relative.
Aaron looked up at his aunt- his eyes were tired and he couldn’t cry anymore. “So what do I have to do?” he hoarsely whispered.
“We will deal with that one step at a time.”
“Can I go back to sleep?”
“Of course- I just needed to make sure you were still with us.”