Weekly Writing Challenge: An Instagram
Just as we can suspend a moment in time by snapping a photograph, an instant can change our lives forever. For this week’s writing challenge: tell us about a moment when your life was changed in a split second.
I don’t have an Instagram account, so I asked my sister to take this picture for me.
I was 10 years old when I killed my grandfather.
I was not the drunk driver that crashed into his car on the Michaocan highway, killing him on impact. But I was the one who put him in the car. At least, I believed that for a long time after the funeral.
I used to be quite extroverted before that, but now I am a very quiet, introverted adult who doesn’t like to burden anyone with favors of any kind.
Earlier this year I finally worked up the courage to tell my family that I’d always felt it was my fault. They assured me I was wrong, and while I know that, I’ll live with it for a long time yet.
My grandparents went back to their home in Mexico every year in mid November, coming back in time for Christmas. The year I was ten, My parents suggested that I go along. I was ecstatic.The first few weeks were amazing. I ran free as though it were summer and played with cousins I’d never met. I even went to the little schoolhouse for as many days out of the week as I wanted. In a whole new country, math was my best subject for a change. My grandfather bought me a violin to take back home because I’d just started lessons. My parents gave him the money, but he alone went and selected it. It remains one of my most treasured possessions.
Toward the end of December, we prepared to return home. I’d loved my experience, but was too eager to get back before Christmas. So I was devastated when my grandfather announced that the plane tickets he bought were for the 26th. I don’t remember asking for new tickets, but something I said or did or my disposition must have pushed him to try again. We were finally set to leave on the 24th. I was pleased. I was happy. So happy. I told my grandfather so.
The morning of the 23rd he drove us to La Piedad – a city 20 minutes out of our small village of Torecillas – while he traveled a bit further to handle some last-minute business.
Soon after, he died in a car crash.
We didn’t find out until we were on our way back to Torecillas in a cab. My uncle saw us and stopped the cab on the highway. He helped us into his truck and started to tell my grandmother that her husband was in the hospital and that I wasn’t allowed along so they’d have to take me back to the house before they could take her. My grandmother insisted we go ahead with me, since I could wait in the lobby, surely. She began to grow hysterical. Finally, my uncle broke down and told her that my abuelito “…ha terminado”. My blood ran cold. I felt numb. Translated, “terminado” means “ended”. My grandfather had ended. It felt so harshly final. A dramatic and irreversible cut to black. My grandmother screamed and the world crashed around my ears.
It was my fault.