I will always have two sisters

Jan. 17, 2013 @ 05:08 AM

Monday wasn’t a normal day. On a normal Monday I stay at home and enjoy the second of my two days off during the week. I generally take care of some loose ends with my sports section and answer an e-mail or two. But I planned on using Tuesday and Wednesday as vacation days so I decide to head to the newsroom for a few hours to make sure things were lined up during my absence.

Again, Monday wasn’t a normal day.

Around 6 p.m. I decided that I was finished with the day and headed out to grab a bite in Forest City. I followed up my meal with a trip to Wal-Mart to grab a few loose items. That place is somewhere I generally do my best to avoid, but as I said…

Monday wasn’t a normal day.

I began my 20-25 minute journey home and eventually pulled into my driveway, grabbed my bag, grabbed my newly purchased items and headed for the front door. As I walked towards the house I noticed a state trooper slowly rolling down my street. I looked out of the front window and watched him as he pulled into my driveway. I asked my father if there was something going on just to find that he was as confused as I was. The next thing I know my doorbell rings, my father and I open the door where we’re greeted by three highway patrol officers and another man in what appeared to be a fireman’s suit.

Again, Monday wasn’t a normal day.

The four men entered my house, the solemn expressions on their faces were enough to frighten me of what I would hear next, but I could have never imagined it. The man in the fireman’s suit introduced himself as a pastor from a nearby church and grasped my father’s hand. He said he was sorry. He told us both that my older sister, Ashley, was killed in a car wreck just hours before. She was 25-years-old.

Monday wasn’t a normal day.

The wave of shock hit us both. I had to sit down. The troopers explained all that they could, but for some reason, none of it mattered. Just a few moments I saw another set of headlights pull into the driveway, it was my younger sister, Alexis. I couldn’t begin to think of what was running through her mind so I put my shoes back on and heading out into the light rain. I met her in front of her car and told her something that I never thought I would have to say, especially so young. I told her that our sister was dead.

Monday wasn’t a normal day.

After holding Alexis for a short while we walked into the house where the pastor introduced himself to Alexis. She disappeared into the kitchen where my father was sitting, trying to comprehend what we all just learned. The pastor spoke with me for a few minutes before my father reappeared with his shoes and coat on. He was going to tell my mother what happened. As he and the troopers pulled away I went upstairs to console my sister. I told her that we needed to be strong for my parents, the ones who had always been strong for us.

Monday wasn’t a normal day.

After about an hour of phone calls and disbelief, my father called and asked my sister and I to come to the hospital where he and mother were to identify Ashley. Fifteen minutes later we arrived at the emergency room and my father led us to the family room to see my mom. She was in so much agony that she was in a wheelchair. Alexis hugged her neck. I held her hand. I have never felt so helpless.

Monday wasn’t a normal day.

Even now as I write this, not even 24 hours after the accident, I feel so incredibly helpless. I have never dealt with death with much grace at all. I close off. I don’t talk. Not because I don’t hurt, but because I don’t know the word to say. I try to be there for the ones that need me but at the same time I just want to be left alone. I don’t want to grieve but watching others grieve. I usually don’t share much of what I feel on a normal day, but again…

Monday wasn’t a normal day.

Ashley was an incredible sister. She cared unconditionally for everyone in our family. We had our times where we would disagree on music, movies, clothes, even boyfriends and girlfriends. For two years we rode together back and forth in the same car to Shelby High. Now I wish we had more conversations during those moments together. I wish I had found more time for her during all those times she asked me to go to the malls in Charlotte or Gastonia with her for the afternoon. I wish she would have had the chance to find true happiness and her direction in life. I wish she would have had the chance to be in wedding. I wish she would have gotten the chance to be my future children’s favorite aunt.

The last real time I spent with Ashley was Friday afternoon before I left for work. She came to my room and asked if I wanted a sandwich, and I’m never one to turn down a free sandwich. I went downstairs where she had prepared a ham and salami sandwich for me. We ate our lunch in the living room in front of the television and laughed at the ridiculous people on daytime dating shows like we normally did during the week. I finished my plate, thanked her and walked out of the door. A sandwich that was otherwise forgettable will forever be the most memorable sandwich of my life.

I loved my sister very much and I always will. I will always have two sisters. Rest in peace, Ashley, I love you and I’ll see you soon. -Travis