Dear diary, Its 8am. I am awake unusually early today. I do not know what day it is, but it feels like a Tuesday and I am sure it’s beautiful outside. It always is, here in Notting Hill. Everything’s the same. It’s like time stopped. Mr Noel’s almost always excited dogs, Carla and her husband bickering about moving to a new neighbourhood (they have been having that argument since they moved here 10 years ago) and old man Frankie cursing as he takes his usual stroll. Dante’s garage is open and Mary’s yelling at her children as they leave for school. I should have stayed back in bed. It’s weird how you get to see things differently where you’re the observer. You see, I used to be part of all this activity. In fact a major contribution to this early morning spring rhythm. I do not know what to do today. Last year, I had a full calendar. I had to change wardrobes for the season. Tina loved spring time. One thing’s certain though; I’ll visit their graves. I think about them every day and I remember that day like it happened thirty minutes ago. This morning, it is even closer. So I might as well tell you for the first time. It was on a Tuesday, my favourite day of the week because I do not have to resume at work until noon. My husband Charlie had called in sick at work. Our children Michael and Mitchell were arguing about hockey and Tina was spending half of the morning in front of the mirror. We had a huge breakfast and the kitchen was filled with noise and laughter. We had made plans to go to the cinema that evening and a visit to Charleston during the weekend. We all had morning chores; Mitch and mike helped take out the garbage and Tina helped me with the dirty dishes while we went on and on about the weird girls in her class that did not share her love for horror movies and boys who did not have a clue. My Tina had the most beautiful laugh and wild green eyes that blinked rapidly when she smiled. When she turned up with red hair at birth, we thought my grandma Betty was back. By her last birthday, her hair was a brilliant shade of brown. We never could tell whether she was brunette or red haired but she was pure joy. I hate that I have to use the past tense…… When the kitchen was clean, I went out to remind the boys that they’ll be late for school. As I stood in the doorway, watching the boys fumble on the grass, I thought of how blessed I was. Mickey and Mitch were a sitting image of their father. Charlie had meaningful grey eyes and thin blond hair. We used to joke that there were three clones in our house. I envied the bond they shared. But then I thought to myself “Carla envies me” Carla lives across the street from our house with her husband Jonas and is about my age (thirty-two) and childless. The couple argued over the same thing every morning. Carla wanted to continue modelling and that could not happen in Notting Hill. They never got around to moving and although she tried to save her figure for future modelling gigs, she envied my family. Who wouldn’t? The children got ready, Charlie kissed me goodbye and they took turns to give me hugs and they were on their way to school waving until they were out of sight. You never can tell which goodbyes are final. The rest of the day comes to me in bits and flashes. I cleaned the rest of the house, picked out recipes for the women’s monthly picnic and waited around lazily for Charlie to return so I could head for work at noon. Sometime before 11am, I called the school after leaving tons of messages on his phone. They had not seen my family. I panicked. Then I thought the doorbell rang. I got the door and the “there you are….” froze on my lips. There were two uniformed men at my door step. It was the first time I knew real fear. Raising my kids was not all rosy but thankfully, so far, I’d recorded few casualties and none of them included police officers. I did not have the strength to recall the moments that passed afterwards or what the officers had said to me until after the funeral. Charlie had taken the shortcut to the children’s school and stopped to get school supplies. He had parked at his usual spot at the bank close to the store, and was in the store for less than three minutes. He had walked out just in time to see the armed robbers try to escape from the bank and they tried to borrow our car. Mitch yelled for help and in panic, the robbers shot at my family. “If it’s any consolation, none of the gun men escaped” the taller of the two uniformed men had informed me. Obviously, he had never had to give the news of the death of someone’s family. There is no consolation. My world had crumbled and it took less than ten minutes for that to happen. The months after that are still a blur to me. We could have got those school supplies on Monday. What kinds of idiot robbers enter a bank without a back up escape plan? Why did it have to happen on a Tuesday when I was not in the car with them? Why did my wonderful husband have to go? He had so much to accomplish and he would never hurt a fly. Why were the lives of my precious babies cut short? Does the world realize what she lost when all four of them left? My mother and sister came to stay a while. I cannot remember now, how long they were here. And visitors came and left and then it was quiet again. I just wanted to stop breathing. There is so much pain in my heart I can’t feel. Oh yes, suicide was part of the plan. i tried it so many times, my sister should be paid for suicide watch. A different kind of silence engulfed me. I didn’t want to see the sun. And after my failed attempts at joining my family, I resigned to listening to the loud silence of death around me. Every day I woke up, and felt the emptiness around and inside me and it is as good as new. One thing’s for sure though, I’ve outgrown the feeling that one morning I’ll wake up and Charlie would be cleaning the garage and Mitch and Mikey would be running down the stairs making so much noise and Tina would be laughing at my jokes. They are not coming back. I carry them in my heart as they carry me in theirs always. I must get out of bed now and get ready or I’ll postpone my visit to the cemetery again. And maybe I’ll do my laundry while at it. I add another maybe to my list. Maybe today’s the day that I’ll make them proud. It’s started raining. Ha! Spring! Wish me luck.

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