6 Dec

This is going to be heavy – sorry in advance. But this post is inspired by a prompt from Write on Edge and this is what came out of it.

Today we’re trying a little something different. Are you ready? Your word is below. Take the next ten minutes to write about the first single memory that word calls up. Focus on the emotions and the experience, spend ten minutes really exploring that memory. Then wrap it up, publish, and come back to link up.

RemembeRED, Write on Edge, Memoir writing prompt

The notes of my cell phone ring out and jolt me awake.

“Hello?” I answer groggily, wondering who the hell is calling me at 3:21 am on a Thursday night – or Friday morning, I suppose.



“This is Officer Rick Batelle from the St. Louis County Police Department. I’m sorry to have to tell you this over the phone, but no one is home at your parent’s house and I’m over at the neighbors. We got your number from you brother Kyle. I’m so sorry, but your brother Nathan was killed in a car accident tonight.”



Forty minutes later I exit the highway, headed to my parents’ house. I’m only about 1.5 miles away, but the road is blocked by a police car, with its silent flashing lights spinning color across the darkness. I cry out – an unintelligible sound that I didn’t consciously make.

The road is blocked because my brother is down that road – only a half a mile from home – but he’ll never make it. I have to go around. I have to go around the barricade that is there because my brother is dead.



Twenty minutes later I am in the kitchen of my parents’ neighbors’ house. I hear my husband’s truck pull up outside. I run out the front door. He is stepping out of his truck, and his whole body is sagging. Streaks of tears run down his face and I run. I run. He lifts me in a hug, each of us clinging desperately to the other.



Two hours later I’m still in my parents’ neighbors’ kitchen, surrounded by my husband, my aunt and my uncle, and Ron and Cindy – the neighbors who have watched me and my brothers grow up. We’re waiting for my parents, who are away on vacation and unreachable by phone, to find out that their son is gone.

My phone rings. It’s my dad.

“Daddy???” I haven’t called him that in a long time.

“Kristina???” His voice is wrenching, choking on his grief and shock. We seem to have a need to just hear each other’s voice, our names, to assure each other that we’re there.



Six hours later I want to see where it happened. We drive the half a mile to the crash site, where a cross has already been erected. Where debris still litters the ground. I see the pole that couldn’t withstand the impact of the speeding car. It is lying on the ground. Covered in something scarlet.

My knees buckle and I am caught by my cousin.



Ten minutes, one hour, two hours, five hours, twelve hours. As more neighbors, my cousins, friends, more family, and finally, my parents arrive at my parents’ house, it is a new rip in the wound, fresh pain to bear witness to.







20 Responses to “Crash”

  1. AmyBeth Inverness December 6, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    This is why I write fiction. Because reading something like this, knowing that it is memoir… that it really happened…

    My sincere condolences on your loss.

    From a writing point of view, the repetition of the word Crash was spot on. It really came across well how each little episode felt like a physical crash to your own person, even though you were nowhere near the car itself when it crashed.

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. alyciaestok December 6, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    First know that I was hugging you while I read this. I recently lost someone and when you were describing that moment on the phone with your dad…the need to connect with someone to ground you…I know that moment.

    I liked the way you used this. How you repeated the word “Crash” as a way of propelling the story into a new moment.

  3. Kelly December 6, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine. You captured the entire scene and feeling incredibly. Very well written.

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Melanie @ M&M December 6, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    So horribly sorry for your loss. We lost a friend in a bicycle accident. My husband held him while he was dying. Such a waste.

    Your presentation is incredible. The time frames and the repeated use of the word “crash” brought me right inside your story.


  5. K December 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    Oh, Kristina. This made me cry. You mention him often and I just can’t even imagine the loss nor how it happened.

    I’m so, so sorry.

  6. Content Writers December 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Great post thanks. I really enjoyed it very much. You have excellent content on your blog.

    Love writing? We would love for you to join us!

    Content Writers Wanted

  7. idiosyncratic eye December 6, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Wow, this is a really strong piece, even more so because its not fiction and my heart went out to you and your family. I love the repeated motif and your time frames, it made it very immediate. 🙂

  8. Sara @ Belle Plaine December 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    I had no idea and I am so, so sorry for your loss. This piece gave me the chills. It’s beautifully done even though the subject is so sorrowful.

  9. christina December 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    i just… i’m so incredibly sorry for your loss.

  10. Life of a Doctor's Wife December 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Every comment I try to leave fails to do justice to your experience or your writing. So I am just going to say: I am reading, I am listening.

  11. Autumn Rayne December 6, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    So sorry for your loss. Very well written. I like the timeline and how you refer back to the topic “crash” throughout your writing. Very real and touching.

  12. Got It, Ma! December 6, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    Bravely written. The way you tell the story, in pieces, describes the way you must have wanted to look away, pull away, turn away from all of this, then and now. Very effective. And very sad. I’m so sorry.

  13. DM December 7, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    I’ve got tears streaming down my face from the pain felt in your words. It’s so vivid, I feel like I am right there with you. This is some fantastic(ally painful) writing. I’m sorry that you had to experience this. You shared it beautifully.

  14. Jennifer December 7, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    Very powerful piece.

  15. Nouvelle Fille December 7, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    “.. only a half a mile from home – but he’ll never make it.”

    That realisation was so jarring .. to me, someone who doesn’t know you at all. Your writing is so honest and brave. It’s really difficult to write about the things that hurt us. Kudos to you for telling your story, and sympathies from this total stranger for your loss.

  16. CM @ A Little Lilac December 7, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    So sorry, this was so heart-wrenching. I felt for you and your family each step of this. I like how you used “crash” as a way to show how even when you thought you had crashed as far as you could go, there was an even lower place to crash to. As you know, I too lost my brother, but many years ago, so I can relate.

  17. Elliot December 7, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Gave me the chills, well done. I still remember the day my dad died so vividly, and it’s been eleven years.

  18. Nancy C December 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Incredibly powerful. The repetition of crash is compelling and painful with each repetition.

    You capture the snapshots, the moving in and out of reality, as one does after a loss.

    You make me feel. And that’s what good writing does.

    And I’m so sorry for your loss.

  19. Cameron December 8, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    This an incredible piece of memoir and I am so very sorry for your loss.

    Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

  20. earlybird December 11, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    This was very powerful. What a nightmare time to go back to. Although I suppose it’s hard to leave it.

    Your re-iteration of the word ‘crash’ was incredibly effective.

    My heartfelt sympathies.

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