My sister Autumn died when she was eighteen. She wasn’t totally popular amongst the masses, she didn’t really have any skills or successes – unless you counted addiction and sex, then she was successfully addicted and sexually active, sure. She hadn’t left much of an imprint behind otherwise, aside from the fact that she left me an uncle. At fourteen, I became an uncle to Remington “Remmy” Owen and Ronnie Owen, a twin boy and girl.
When my sister announced her pregnancy, my mother was disgusted and my father was horrified. After the pregnancy was announced, I would sit in my bedroom for hours and hear the whispers on the other side of my bedroom door, wondering if Autumn could hear it, too. Our mother and father bickering back and forth like a flame lit between one another; harsh, rasp whispers about what they were going to do to help our sister and her children once born.
Autumn never brought the boy around. In fact, to this day, I couldn’t tell you whom she birthed the children to because by the time we showed up at the hospital, he was lost and gone forever. My sister was in tears holding her children, sobbing how she didn’t want to do it alone.
Things didn’t always stay that way, though. Remmy and Ronnie became a staple to the family and also to the community. Our small village was mostly filled to the brim with the elderly and barren of any children. Autumn had a distinguished look to her face as her children grew and evolved in front of her – however, there was always some underlying sadness to the way she held herself. When the children were three years old, Autumn fell dangerously ill and spent a total of four days in the hospital before they discovered the 6-centimeter mass on her cervix and my sister, in turn, became the least successful thing she had been so far – a corpse.
My father was especially nervous and frantic after Autumn’s death and, as the months drew went on, my mother started holding some animosity of sorts against him and playing the blame game. Say my father would accidentally break something in the house, the only discernable thing my mother could offer to the conversation was, “Well, maybe if you would have watched yourself, that item wouldn’t be broken and our daughter wouldn’t be dead amongst other things.” It sliced through me like a knife but completely severed the tendons the day my mother sat solemnly in the kitchen when I arrived home from work and said, “Your father is dead.” It was a heart attack; nothing significant or creative about his death, just something easy yet successful.
Somebody had to take care of the children and that someone was me. By this point, I was just shy of eighteen myself and the children were three-year-old bumbling toddlers, running amok in the household. My mother was sitting with her head in her hands one day, frail and white in the face from the toll the deaths took and whispered, “I just can’t do this by myself anymore.” And, without even thinking, I quit my job and took on the responsibility of those two beautiful children that my sister had left behind.
As time went on, the village around us went through many transitions. It started off as nothing noticeable; a flu here and there, an elderly person falling violently ill to the point that death would befall them. The twins went through stages of illnesses until, finally, I called an in-home doctor to do an assessment in fears that they were never going to get through the sickness.