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Dec 2011
six years old
when I found out that kids could die.
There was a family at my grandma’s church—
The only black family
in the entire congregation.
The mother
was petite, wore thick glasses, and played piano during church.
The father
was greatly obese, with thinning hair, and a permanent smile.
Their two boys
were four and twelve years old.
The night of their death
I saw them at church.
Service had just gotten out
and I was running wild with my two friends.
Both a grade higher than me.
We ran across the large stage
and jumped into the huge bathtub
they used for baptisms.
The four year old boy,
only an hour away
from Death’s grip.
He said to me with a big, genuine smile,
“Hi Daniel.”
But he was only four.
Practically a baby, I thought.
I was running with the big kids.
No time for babies.
So I turned back to running around with my friends,
ignoring his friendly greeting.
An hour later
that little boy’s dad
pulled the family Lincoln Town car over on the freeway.
Flat tire.
While the dad was walking around the back of the car,
the wife and two boys were waiting inside.
Some ******* drunk
slammed into the car.
The dad watched the car
fly forward and burst into flames.
The smiling four year old
burned to death that night.
The twelve year old
suffered severe brain damage and died two days later.
The mother’s face, chest, back, neck, arms, and hands bore
charred and bubbling skin.
The father died of a heart attack a few months later.
That piano playing lady of the Lord
buried her whole family.
A decade later,
a teenager back at my grandma’s church
for mother’s Day.
The burned
former mommy and wife
still sat and played at that piano.
For some reason
she was still working for the big guy upstairs.
I couldn’t understand it then, and I still don’t.
For not saying “Hi”
to that doomed little boy that night.
That was the first time I’d ever felt like an *******.
When I was six years old.
Danny Valdez
Written by
Danny Valdez
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