August 23, 2000: My Flashbulb Memory

August 23, 2000 was a very weird day. It was horrible actually. But the way it became horrible was weird.

A flashbulb memory is when you remember something so accurately, even years later, because it was so shocking. Kennedy’s assassination is an example often used. 9/11 is another. Well this memory isn’t national, rather related to my family. And even though it was 19 years ago, I can still remember the details as if it was yesterday. I’ve just never written about it until today.

It was a hot, sunny Wednesday afternoon. I was in the middle of creating a Blue Mountain e-card for my cousin’s birthday, which was the day before. The phone rang. I picked it up. It was my uncle calling to speak with my mother. But he spoke to me as well: His eight-year-old daughter, my cousin Raleigh, was in a volcano accident in Costa Rica where she was traveling with her mom. My heart sank. All the joy of writing the Blue Mountain card quickly melted away.

And so every August 23, I recall myself sitting at the computer in the kitchen, working on the birthday e-card for a cousin of mine, and then getting this phone call about my cousin (a different side of the family, but they were still very close).

Memories continue those two weeks in which my cousin Raleigh was being treated in the hospital. Updates from my uncle as well as from my mom who flew down to the hospital to join them the following day. And I remember standing with my father, reciting psalms and praying each night that she would hold on, get better.

And then late at night Wednesday, September 6th, my father came home from work and informed me what had happened. Well, he didn’t even say anything. He just approached me while I was at the kitchen table, his presence somber, and I just knew. And we both just sat there and cried.

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