By: Taylor Choung
Lying down in a small office, closing my eyes, breathing deeply, hearing the distant ticking of a clock, I feel as if I am in an operating room. Once I hear my therapist’s voice, the moment of nervousness is gone. My therapist, Dr. Gardner, starts the session by counting 3,2, and 1. By the snap of his fingers, he instantly makes me feel relaxed and secure to the point where I felt comfortable in telling him anything. As I take a deep breath, I begin to explain my story, the unforgettable tragedy that occurred in my family.
Before my little brother Jace was born and I was thirteen, my mom wanted to have another baby, but because of a thyroid problem, she couldn’t. Before giving birth to Jace, the only thing she ever thought about was having another baby of her own. To cope with her problems she would cry, starve herself, irrationally blame herself, and push my dad and me away because of her uncontrollable internal issues. Then God granted her another chance and blessed us with Jace. He was considered the miracle child of our family. After giving birth to Jace, my mother was the happiest woman I had ever seen. However, because of her depression during the pregnancy, she had spent countless days not eating. Therefore, she was so underweight during her pregnancy that Jace was born with malnutrition, which made me believe that both of them would have health issues. To this day, I’m so thankful that my mom made it through all of this. Sometimes I think that if it had not been for Jace, I would have never gotten the chance to see my mom smile again. We were once a happy family until that one unforgettable sunny day at the beach. Three years had passed by; it was an ordinary day in the month of June.
My family and I decided to take a little trip down to Manhattan Beach. I was so cheerful because Jace and I had never been to the beach before. As we arrived, I got out of the car and a gush of wind came rushing past my face; it made me feel alive. While I was carrying an umbrella, we walked toward tower 11 to set out our towels and Jace’s sand castle toys. I looked behind me and I saw my dad, mom, and Jace talking and smiling, which made me smile even more. Jace’s face was filled with curiosity, as he inspected every rock and pebble on the beach.
After settling in, I persuaded my parents to go on a date at a restaurant down the corner while I watched Jace. He and I decided to build sand castles near the shore. The feeling of clasping onto the damp sand as the warm salty breeze whipped through my hair was surreal. It was so amusing watching him play by himself, as he was unaware of how dirty he was getting every second he was touching the sand. After noticing how filthy he was, I cleaned him off before my mom came back. I pulled him closer to me, his soft hands were touching my cheeks, as his hazel eyes were locked on mine, I wiped all the sand away. It felt as if he wanted to say something to me.
He was being ridiculous. Every time I cleaned him up he would go back into the sand; it was useless. So instead of watching him, I was talking on the phone, facing the other direction. I suddenly heard distant cries from my dad yelling from the top of his lungs, “Get Jace out of the water, Taylor! What are you doing? Get Jace out of the water!” Before I knew it, I saw Jace bending down to grab a piece of seaweed as the waves suddenly tumbled over him. After the waves rushed up the shore, he wasn’t there anymore. I sprinted across the sand to the water as fast I could. But by then, it was too late.
I couldn’t see Jace anywhere. By the time my mom and dad came closer, my dad rushed to the water, trying to find him. I dropped my phone, not caring about where it landed. I was so still, it felt as if I got stabbed in every single part of my body; I didn’t know what to say or do. As I looked to my right, all I saw was my mother yelling and crying uncontrollably. I tried my best to think that he could come back, so I held back the tears. I went to my mom to help her get up. She slapped me across the face yelling, “Why would you do this to our family?” I had never felt so much pain and guilt in my life; I couldn’t hold back my tears. This was the moment I wanted to throw myself into the ocean.
After the police came to help search, they told us that there was no sign of a child missing and that we should go home. In the car, it was dead silent. I saw that my mom looked at her phone to see Jace as her background photo, she started bawling her eyes out. I could feel the tension in the car. My parents hated me, and I hated me. As my tears were coming down my face, I thought to myself that I would never be able to see him again. I would never forget the little kisses he gave me, how his hand was always holding onto my finger, or how I was the first one to teach him how to walk. What we said in our family was true: Jace was a miracle baby. If he was here, I would hold him in my arms and say, “I’m sorry for not watching you when I should have. Because of me we can’t watch you grow up to be a handsome, successful, and talented man. You will always have a place in my heart. I will never forget you little one. Rest in peace my baby brother Jace.”
After that day, I went through serious depression. To relieve my stress, I used many different drugs so that I could be happy. They didn’t work. Before Jace died, school was my top priority but now it was my last. My parents didn’t want to deal with me anymore so they kicked me out of the house; I was crazy and lost. After getting kicked out, I lost contact with my parents and friends. I was alone. As I grew older I got care from hospitals which led me into attending support groups.
Suddenly, I heard an alarm go off while I was still talking to my therapist. That was a sign that my session was over and I had to leave. It was back to present now. I couldn’t distinguish if the past or present was better. It felt all the same to me. Even though I got my help, I still never got to see the sweet smile on Jace’s face or even see my parents happily grow old. As I was driving, I was debating if I should just leave this unfair world. My thoughts were, if no one wanted me, might as well leave this place and move on to a happier place where I can see Jace. I was driving slowly down my streets towards my house. Suddenly, I saw a couple on the stairs in front of my porch lingering around as if they were there for a while. It was my parents.