Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Her responsibilities were overwhelming. Her two youngest children barely remembered their father. Alex was 4 and Sophie had just turned 2 when he died. They didn’t have enough time with him. Why does God always take the best so soon? she often asked herself. He was such a good man. She was so happy to have found him after all those years alone. She thought they would have had more time. There’s never enough time. She realized that right now as she rushed to hide the Easter presents from the kids.
“Madeline, could you keep them out back for a minute?” She called to her eldest daughter from her previous marriage.
Madeline and Claire have been God sent in helping out with the little ones. There is no way she would have been able to get through Lou’s cancer without them.
“No problem, Mom! Hey, can I use your car later?” Maddie called back. “I’ve got plans to meet up with some friends.”
“Sure, hun. But don’t be out too late…it’s Easter tomorrow.” She’s such a young lady now, she thought. It's hard to believe that she's in college. It's so nice to have her home through the holiday; to have the whole family together.
That’s why she needed the babies in the back yard. She wanted to sneak the Easter presents from her car in through the front. The ongoing to-do list ran through her head: Unpack the groceries, hide the presents, make the baskets, make dinner, clean the house, arrange the flowers, try to work out. Yeah, like that was going to happen. She was so tired at this point she could hardly think straight let alone get on the treadmill. Maybe tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow. Sometimes, she thought sadly. That's what they always said..."we'll deal with that tomorrow". It was the way they made it through those agonizing months as the cancer slowly took away Lou's vibrance.
But first things first….get the Easter stuff hidden. She wanted Alex and Sophie to hold onto their innocence and beliefs in the Easter Bunny a little bit longer.
Alex looks just like Lou. So does Sophie. It’s hard not to look at them and see that magnificent man. He always cooked Easter dinner. He always made the day special for us all. Actually, he made every day seem special. He was so good with the kids. The children adored him. Everyone adored Lou. He was just that kind of man. God, she missed him.
She hung her head for a moment to regain her composure. Alex gets inconsolable when he sees his mom break down. Okay. It’s okay…pull yourself together, she said beneath her breath.
The evening is finally almost over. The kids are bathed and put to bed. She thinks she might do the same. Madeline comes asking for the keys to the car, but they aren’t where they normally are. Where are they?
“Just use the spare set Maddie, I’m too tired to look for them right now.”
“No problem, Mom.”
“Be back before midnight!” she calls out.
“Mooooommmmmmmmmm. A little later? Please?” Maddie quickly asks.
“12:30. Latest. OK Madeline?”
“Alright. Geez, Mom.” she answers. “I love you.”
“I love you too. With all my heart.”
Easter morning. The kids are awake and digging through their baskets. Foil wrappers strewn on the floor, bunnies on the coffee tables missing their ears.
“C'mon kids…let’s go. We don’t want to be late for Mass.”
It was a long night. Her heart was heavy and she's overtired, but it’s so great to see everyone in their new Easter clothes. The girls are gorgeous, with their long hair and easy smiles. She is so lucky to have them. Where did the years go? They all clamor out the side door to the driveway where Maddie left the car last night. Her daughter had been late getting in. 1:00am the clock had read. She had woken up when she heard the car doors lock with it’s annoying, yet reassuring Beep!Beep!
“Maddie? Where’s the car? She asks her daughter struggling with the deadbolt on the house door.
“Right there Mom…right….” Maddie turns around to find the driveway empty. The car is gone.
“Right where, Maddie?”
“Mom! I parked it RIGHT THERE….Right there!!!” she points to the spot in the driveway where she had parked the Jeep last night.
The morning isn’t spent at Saint Malachi like planned. It’s spent in the living room accompanied by uniformed police officers taking reports. They’ve managed to put together that her keys must have been stolen. Her key chain is attached to a small card wallet that had her driver’s license, Giant Eagle card and debit card. It was a gift that she had liked for its convenience. It’s not very convenient now.
Seems whoever has taken her keys has charged $1200 in gift cards at Giant Eagle, returned later and stolen the car. Filled up with gas and drove to Detroit. They found the car wrapped around a light pole right outside of the Motor City. No passengers. Nothing in the car. Everything is gone, except for some empty RedBull cans.
“Ma’am, we need you to come with us to the grocery to look at the security videos. To see if you know who used your credit cards.” The police officer looks forlorn. He knows this family. He knew Lou and had attended his funeral. He knows the amount of stress they have already endured. Why can’t this family catch a break, he wonders. They sure do deserve it.
They watch the stores videos. She brings the girls to see if they know who these boys are. The theives are young. The dark haired boy looks to be about 19, the other not even that.
“No. I don’t know them.” she replies. “I’ve never seen them before.”
Both of the girls nod in agreement. They don’t know them either.
How did they get her keys? She had them when she returned home. Did she leave them on the front porch? Did they pick them up from there? Her mind is a jumble as she tries to retrace her steps and figure this puzzle out. The purchases at the grocery were at 10:32pm. Madeline had the car at that time. She didn’t get back until 1:00am and the car was found in Detroit at 6:30am. So these boys came back and stole the car after Madeline returned home?
Shivers went up her spine and raised the hair on her neck. The thought that someone was watching the house, her house, planning on stealing her car unsettled her. It dawns on her that they still have the keys to her house.
She was now not just scared, but angry. How could the people at Giant Eagle have approved a $1200 sale! Don’t they ask for identification? She just bought this car. And what about her bank card? All of her money gone. Oh God…help me, is all she can think.
Haven’t I been through enough already?
I’m just so tired. So tired.
NOTE: This short story is based on factual events of a neighbor. It's a sad story, but I hope you liked it.