This is an absolutely true story Book Index(click on video to turn off music)
Never forget me, because if I thought you would, I'd never leave.A A.Milne
It was an experience we could never recover, and should we try? The revelation months later of a child – Joshua’s child, should have given us resolution, however that was never to be.
Lily, Joshua’s daughter, was a spunky toddler giving delight and happiness every time this little pearl appeared. My sister Mary, her grandmother, spent every minute she could with the child, or making plans for the little girl, when Lily could not be with her.
She had Joshua’s eyes and mouth, but in more ways looked like my nephew Justin...and me. My mother told me before I met the little sprite that she looked just like I did as a child. None of my children looked like me, so this was going to be an interesting meeting once it happened. When it did, I was both shocked and gleeful to find the child I had only seen in old black and white photos, staring back at me. A common trait in the Schuch household for siblings offspring to look like their Aunts and Uncles. I am sure my sister would disagree, but if she thought it through, she would know that isn’t such a bad thing since she, Mary, did everything she could to mirror me when we were younger, she so wanted to be like me. Lily could do a lot worse.
Lily did not have a father, but she did have a man in her life, one she worshipped.
Every time her Uncle Justin entered the room she would run into his arms, in one fluid sweep across the room. Justin was a beautiful young man, over 6 feet tall with almost white blond hair, almond shaped eyes with blonde eyelashes and eyebrows. And he was a sizable boy as well. Trust me, you wouldn’t have wanted to run into him in a dark alley.
After Joshua died, Justin had appeared to come to terms with the loss, but the worst was the fact that he found his brother hanging by a belt from the basement pipes. I was more than worried, I felt a sort of panic in me because my sister said he was not going to see his Psychiatrist and that he assured her he was ok. I got into many arguments with her where she would end up screaming:
“What the hell do you want me to do? I cannot make him!”
The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. She pretty much figured that since she was one, and I didn’t suffer from it but damn well enjoyed it, then her son wasn’t statistically in danger. Nothing could change her mind...how could she be so blind?
Before the tragedy, he already had an anger problem. Who wouldn’t with a father who denied him his birthright and treated his older brother like his only son. He also had to deal with a tyrannical mother who didn’t know how to talk to her kids, but just shriek at them. Mel couldn’t stand going there. One thing she could not abide was screaming. I always tried to remind Mary that we kids, she, I and the boys, we were all terrified of Saturday mornings.
My mother would wake and scream orders to us, always ready to “boot” one of us in the rear-end if we didn’t answer her demands in a thrifty fashion. Or yell at us when we brought a friend in the house. Especially embarrassing when they were new. Or she would wait around the corner and catch us passing and slap us for some horror such as not picking up our clothes.
Justin and Joshua grew up in much the same type of household. Though Mary being the youngest of us, did not experience it as fully, she seemed to encompass it more. With the denial of his father and the constant ridicule from his mother, it is no wonder he had an anger problem. I am sure he went through times where he felt no one cared. If I had lived closer to him, perhaps I could have been a haven. Mary felt her love should have been apparent. I tried to explain to Mary that one kind word meant more to these children than all the love in paradise.
But he was cute, I mean CUTE. I do not recall anything he really wanted to do with his life, he pretty much lived for the moment and played a good hand of poker.
Mel and I had gone to Kenosha in the summer of 2007, where we were introduced to Justin’s new girlfriend. She was a lovely girl with black and auburn curls down her back and a ready smile. She was a little on the wild side and a few years older than Justin. She did not seem to enjoy my sister though she liked me. Mel, not so much. Mel gave them both a hard time about driving a motorbike without helmets, which, we were surprised to find, weren't required in Kenosha. Mel gave them the 'donor cycle' speech. Useless as it was.
He wasn’t an introspective child, much like his mom that way. During one of our conversations I tried to engage him about Joshua. He slammed his hands down on the glass table causing it to rock within its frame, the newspaper flying as he brushed his hand across the table. Then he apologized and explained that he could not talk to his doctor about Josh, refused to talk to his mother about it and asked me to not ask him to speak about it because nothing could be done to save Joshua now. Fortunately he wasn’t one of those teenagers who live in terror of not being misunderstood. His conversations were not filled with agenda.
So we talked of Lily. Good change of venue. He lit up when speaking of her and carried on about his importance in being in her life and how he intended to be everything his brother would have been to this child, explaining that he told this girlfriend, and any to come that Lily was his number one priority. And then he said the oddest thing:
How does a person who doesn’t exist go on existing? Like he heard it somewhere, or just read it. The first time something almost intimate in it's revelation came out of that child's mouth.
Three months later Mel was to go to an Anesthesia conference in San Francisco. But the entire month previously, I was fretful; I didn’t want to go to San Francisco, or anywhere. I was convinced something was going to happen and was distraught about it. Mel became angry and threatened to pack me in a piece of luggage. I went as ordered and once we got to California, I realized I was acting irrationally.
After we arrived at our hotel, we didn’t take any time to rest. Our lodgings were next to the Ghirardelli Square with all the wonderful stores, restaurants and clubs. Very festive and exciting. I found a Chinese perfume shop and was sampling fragrances while Mel, was on the phone.
Suddenly, in slow motion everything came to a sort of halt. I could feel my heart beating. I could hear it, and only it. Everything around me became silent. I took purposeful breaths as I turned and handed the bottle of White Diamonds to the clerk, dropping it to the counter. The clerk must also have felt something because she did not get angry, but instead, took my hand. I stared at her for only a second and turned to leave making slow deliberate steps towards the street where Mel was standing.
“Dianne, we need to go back to the room.”
“No” I demanded, because I knew any time from that moment to the end of that moment were going to be bad.
Suddenly a couple flew by on a motorcycle, I turned and watched the girl's beautiful tresses tangling around the boys face, her face against his back, the boy was holding her hand tightly on his chest.
And at once my mind took me to that warm August afternoon where I saw the 19 year old boy sail past me, laughing while a free spirited young girl, with arms wrapped around him, hid her laughing face into his back. An eternal future in front of them.
“No Mel, tell me now, just say it.”
“Dianne” she choked back tears “It’s Justin, he’s dead”
"All of my days are trances and all my nightly dreams are where thy dark eye glances, and where thy footstep gleams in what ethereal dances by what eternal streams?" Edgar Allen Poe
By the way IISTG means If It Seems Too Good to be True