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Fallen Star

Snow blankets the frozen ground below our feet as the plows plow, the salters salt and everything seems to be twinkling from the pure white snow. December 12, 1994 the day after a rather large snow fall in Kenmore, NY, which is where I live.

I start my walk home from high school thinking of what I have to do that night, deliver my papers, get my haircut, and do some homework. I get home and ask my mom if she can drop me off to get my haircut and I would walk home, she says ?Sure.? She had to go collect her bills from her paper carriers anyways; she was a paper distributor for the Buffalo News. She drops me off at the barber and goes on her way.

I am in the barber?s chair getting comfortable for my haircut, the barber starts. Things are going along as usual, pieces of my hair falling to the ground just like the light snowflakes outside and to my chest with the occasional piece landing on my face; I blow it off.

Then a lady walks in and says, ?Sorry I am late but there is an accident down the street and we were detoured all over the place.? Just as she is telling her story a pack of police cars and ambulances race by, we all stop for a second and stare as if we were caught in a trance. Then snap, my haircut continues as if nothing happened, I pay the barber and start my descent home.

Being the curious teenager that I am I decide to take the long way home to see if I can catch a glimpse of what happened and how bad the accident is. I approach the scene and there are cop cars everywhere, the ambulances have already gone.

As I am about to turn the corner onto my street I notice one of the cars that was in the accident has an R.I.T (Rochester Institute of Technology) sticker on the back windshield, that?s where my older brother goes to college. So I decide to get a closer look but am abruptly stopped in my tracks by a police officer that says their clich?d line ?Nothing to see here son, go on...?

Before he could finish what he was saying I interrupted him and asked ?Does that van have an R.I.T sticker on the back?? he responds, ?Yes it does, now move...? Once again I interrupt him and burst out into tears, and cry aloud ?That?s my moms car.? Over and over I wailed as they took me to the police car. In the process we pass by the van and I saw a hole the size of a cantaloupe in the windshield. Of course I had to ask, with tears now flooding from my face, ?Did my moms head go through there?? there was no answer so I automatically assumed it did.

At that very moment, a million thoughts overflowed my mind; was she dead, I didn?t get to say goodbye, or I love her, will I ever see her again, will she be the same?

The policemen take me into one of their cars and ask me the typical informational questions, where do you live, Is anyone at home right now, etc. I can barely breathe let alone talk I am crying so hard, but I manage to mumble out my phone number. They call and ask my brother to come to the scene, which is at the end of our street. He runs up thinking I am in trouble for doing something, but on the contrary all I did was discover a horrific accident.

He enters the car and is told what has happened and begins to console me; the policemen turn the questions to him. He tells them what they need to hear and they call my dad?s work, at the time my father was a truck driver who had trips back and forth to Rochester each day. They reach work and then work radios my dad who is on his way back from Rochester, they tell him to get to the nearest service station and call back. He thinks he made a mistake on one of his deliveries, but he was dead wrong. They tell him what had happened, so he rushes back to work, picks up his car and rushes to ECMC where my mother was taken.

My brother and I are dropped off at our house, and tears are still gushing down my face. My brother takes care of all the details, calls everyone who needs to know at the time and then does my paper route for me.
Meanwhile, I lay on the floor soaking the carpet from my tears. I finally calm down and just sit there, waiting to here something from my dad or the hospital or something. Yet again, thoughts clutter my already weakened mind; why did I ask her for a ride, I could have walked. This never would have happened if I didn?t ask for a ride.

Finally, my dad comes home and slowly and carefully tells us the update; she is going to be fine, with some work. It turns out she wasn?t buckled and flew across the inside of the car and hit her head on the passenger side of the front windshield. She had a wide gash on her forehead, a severely bruised hip and a fractured wrist; all in all she was banged up, but alive.

Six years have gone by since that dreadful day, which will live in infamy in my mind forever. There isn?t a time when I pass by the scene of the accident that I don?t see my moms van on the side of the road in a snow bank and that hole in the windshield just keeps flashing in front of me.

What if she had died? I never would have been able to give her another hug, another kiss, a thank you, an I LOVE YOU. She would never know how much I truly appreciate everything she has done and how much I care.

Every time I pass by the scene, I breathe a sigh of relief that she made it through and is still a huge part of my life. Yet at the same time I get a pain in my heart, a pain that feels like the hole in the windshield is a hole in my heart.

Steve Staniszewski

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