By Serena Tsan

Summer of 2003, I was nine-years-old. It was supposed to be another fun filled childhood memory, and it almost was, almost. When summer ended, that’s when everything changed, and life wouldn’t be the same again.

After I turned three, I always spent weeks of summer vacation in the town of Gilroy with my godparents and god brother. Nights were filled with my godmother’s cooking, board games, watching rented movies, and eating popcorn. Weekends were immersed with BBQ, karaoke, rafting, biking, stuffing bugs into a little jar, and chasing after little slimy green frogs. It was always fun.

Leaving was always hard, but I knew I would be visiting my godparents again during winter break. I would hug my cousin and my godfather, and my godmother would hug and kiss me on the cheek. We drove off, and that was my last time seeing her.
It was the last weekend before school started. On another warm summer’s day, my family decided to have a BBQ, so we all ate outside. My mother was on the phone with my godmother; my godparents were in a car heading to a wedding.

“Hello? Hello?” I heard my mom say. She told me that the line went dead and that they probably lost connection. She tried to call her back, but no one picked up. We went back to eating and talking to each other. Little did she know, she was the last person who talked to my godmother.

Late that night, we got a phone call from my aunt. She told us my godparents had gotten into a car accident. My godfather was being transferred in a helicopter to the nearest hospital. They couldn’t find my godmother’s body. My whole family was shocked. I didn’t know how to react to the whole situation. How could they not have found my godmother’s body? Where else could she be? My mother told me and my siblings to go to sleep, and that everything will be alright. I couldn’t sleep, but I reminded myself to think positively and that everything will be okay. Everything always turns out okay in the end.

I fell asleep, and dreamt that my godmother was actually just right outside our house, and that it was all just a big joke. My mother woke me up in the middle of the night, she was crying, she told me that they found my godmother’s body, she had died.

My godmother was not just a godmother to me, she was my aunt, my mother’s sister, and my grandma’s daughter. She was smart, funny, caring, and optimistic; she was one of my role models. Everyone loved her. She was the type of person who would go out of her way for others.   She lent others money when they were in need. She was always there for family. She was always there for me; whether it was from just being there for my birthday parties in Sacramento, throwing another birthday party for me in Gilroy, putting money under my pillow when my baby tooth came out, or just giving advice to how I should be when I’m older. I loved her, and she loved me.

“Ohm mah li black me yum, ohm mah li black me yum,” the Buddhist repeatedly chanted. I was so tired. My knees ached because I’ve been kneeling on them for the past hours. My god brother was in front of me, also kneeling. He wore white. His shirt, pants, shoes, and hat, they were all white. He was a couple years younger than me, he looked solemn. I wondered if he knew what was going on, I didn’t even think I understood the full concept of what had happened. Next to him was my godfather, he, too, wore the same outfit. Every now and then, I would see him wipe a couple of tears off of his bruised face. His face was grim, and he wasn’t kneeling down in the temple with us because he was sitting in a wheel chair. A young driver had lost control of his truck and swerved towards my godparents’ van; my godfather panicked and averted his wheel in a different direction. It wasn’t fast enough. The truck slammed into the passenger side of the van, killing my godmother instantly.

I didn’t know how to feel, none of it seemed real. My parents didn’t allow me or my siblings to go see my godmother being buried, something about children around bad spirits. My aunt did show me pictures of my godmother though, pictures of her in her coffin. Her face was distorted from all the bruises from the accident, the blood had been drained out of her skin leaving her so pale, so artificial looking, and this ugly bright red lipstick smeared onto her lips, probably meant to make her corpse look better, but it didn’t. My godmother didn’t wear makeup, she was naturally beautiful. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t her lying in that coffin, but in the back of my mind, I knew it was her.

Summer of 2003, I was nine. It was supposed to be another fun filled childhood memory, and it almost was, almost. When summer ended, that’s when everything changed, life wasn’t the same again. I grew a little; I learned that life isn’t fair, tragedies happen every day to the good people and to the bad. Life for people isn’t just a happily ever after, it’s hard out here; we are born, we do our best to survive, and then we die. It really is up to us to make the best of it every day, and treasure those we love.