July 28, 2010 is a day that will always be etched into my mind. At first, it was a normal day for me. I had graduated high school 2 months beforehand and was just spending my time with my friends, and with my nieces who at the time were living with me.
I woke up that morning to my niece not feeling good, she was running a fever and we figured she may have had an ear infection again so my sister and her boyfriend took her into the doctors. Sure enough, she had a double ear infection, was sent home with medicine and that was that.
We put her down for a nap, and when after dinner I went to check on her, she was still sleeping, so I took her sister to the park by our house. A half hour later, I got a phone call that changed my life. My niece had stopped breathing. My neighbor from across the street came running to the park and told me to get to her house.
She grabbed my niece and I sprinted as fast as I could to her house, I saw 2 cop cars, a fire truck and an ambulance outside my house. It was the scariest night of my life. After 10 minutes my mom called me to bring my niece home and to take care of her and my youngest niece while they were at the ER. As soon as they left, a detective showed up at my house and asked me all these questions.
My neighbor down the street offered to take the girls for me so they weren’t in the way. At 8:15 that night, I got the call that changed my whole life. I had that gut feeling that she didn’t make it, and heartbreakingly I was correct.
I felt like the worst aunt ever, she was 19 months old, and I hardly bothered to spend time with her. I felt guilty that my friends were more important. I fell to my knees screaming and crying, and my brother’s friends ran up to me holding me. Throughout the night my friends stopped by to see me and see how I was doing.
A month after everything happened, my friend at the time was talking to me about my depression and the grieving I was going through, and she was like “not to be mean, but you need to get over it, she’s not coming back.”
I was dumbfounded by her, how could someone say that? I knew she wasn’t coming back! That was my niece though! My heart was broken even more by that comment. I get that she never lost anyone close to her, but you never say that to someone.
The whole year was a blur, I pushed all my friends away because I was grieving, and felt like they would never understand. As the one year mark approached, my best friend told me how our friend wanted her to tell me that I seriously needed to get over myself and that I needed to get over the death of my niece. She kept saying how I need to accept that my niece is gone and never coming back.
We had a strained relationship ever since then, how could I trust her after what she had said? The worst part is she tried to deny that she ever said it a second time! She had apologized after saying it the first time, and while I forgave her, I was very careful around her.
Losing my niece made me realize a lot about how people can be so horrible. There were rumors going around my neighborhood that she was hit by a car while I was babysitting, but the truth is, she passed in her sleep, and her autopsy came back inconclusive, so we will never know what really happened that day.
I have never felt as heartbroken as that night, but I am so glad she is my guardian angel. As much as I wish she were still alive, she is no longer in pain. I will always be her aunt, and she will always be the little girl who lit up the room with that beautiful smile on her face.