This is the college essay my Step-Daughter wrote on her first english essay at NorhtWest Vista College in SanAntonio, Texas.
Written by Cara Steading in memory of her Step-Brother Rodney Borden
I look down. There he is. He's so small. I love his little cheeks. They're the color of pink carnations. His eyes shimmer with excitement. He says hello and I hear the 'bama accent ring through his voice. I notice the tube running from his backpack up into his nose, and I get nervous. If I give him a hug will I squeeze to hard? What if he doesn't want me to hug him? Maybe I should shake his hand? What am I talking about? This is crazy. Leaning down, I wrap my arms around his little body. I feel his heart beat strum against my chest. My first time ever to hug my stepbrother.
We sit in the backseat and I hear the faint whisper of country on the radio. I see my Dad's shaggy beard in the review mirror. His smile is hidden beneath it. I feel Rodney's gaze on me, but I look out the window. I don't know what to say. A sign says were now in Gadson city. We pull into a seafood restaurant called Top O' the River. I wonder how Alabama seafood is. They don't have an ocean anywhere near by. Inside we sit down at one of the booths. Menus and silverware are laid in front of us. For the first time I get a good look at my new step-mom. Highlighted blonde hair frames her tan face. Her eyes are warm and caring, and I see a hint of sadness in their depths. Her voice is soft, and there's the same Alabama accent as Rodney's. Now I see why my Dad left Austin for a lady he had met only once before. This country girl has my Dad wrapped around her little finger with that sweet accent of hers. I smile, watching the two of them exchange kisses through out the meal. The waitress comes and I order shrimp, considering shrimp can still taste the same after twenty-four hours of shipping and handling.
Although it's dark out, I know when we've reached their house. It's much prettier than in the pictures. It reminds me of a perfect country home with it's white wooden walls, big windows, and giant front porch. I imagine the three of them lounging in rocking chairs drinking iced tea on hot afternoons. I get the sudden urge to run up and kiss the house and its sweetness. Instead we go inside where I'm given a short tour around. Rodney nearly jumps out of his skin with excitement when we finally head up the stairs to his room. He jets back and forth and I get out of breath just watching him. He shows me his swords; the figurines hung on his wall, his stuffed animals, his video game collection, his games, and his swords one more time. Sherrie comes in and herds Rodney over to the bed. He sits on the edge and she puts a vest over him. Switching it on the room fills with a loud buzzing noise. I watch as Rodney's body shakes from head to toe from the powerful vibrating. I feel uncomfortable standing in his room watching this, so I start to drift toward the stairs. Glancing back I say a swift "goodnight" and start to head down the stairs.
"I love you sis!" Rodney calls after me.
My hand grasps the handrail, and I look up. "I love you too Rod." I call back to him. I can hear them talking and laughing above me.
The sun glares through my window in the morning, toasting my face. I slide my feet around under the covers, loving the feeling of the silk sheets. Even my pillows are silk and I rub my cheek across it. Soon the sun becomes unbearable so I slip out of bed and head for the kitchen. I pour myself some juice and sit down at the dining room table.
"Well, good morning sleepy head." My dad says from the doorway. "We were wondering if you were going to wake up today or not. Rodney's driving me nuts asking every five minutes when you're going to get up."
Right then Rodney hustles past my dad and comes and sits next to me. I ruffle his hair, and grin at him.
"What you got planned for us today Rodney?" I ask.
"I want to show you my new video games. This one game is really cool; you have to shoot all of these Zombies. We can watch a movie to if you want."
My juice is still half full when I'm tugged up stairs to go shoot at Zombies. Rodney laughs when I shoot at my own men, or I die after only a few seconds. When I die from falling off a ledge his laughing turns to wheezing, and then to a terrible cough. I can hear his lungs trying to rid it self of all the fluid. My hands fidget on my lap, and I feel helpless. Finally his coughing seizes, leaving his face pink from the effort. He turns off the Nintendo and slowly makes his way downstairs. We go in to the living room and watch an old soap opera on tv. I don't know why neither of us changes the channel.
"Sis, is there any thing you want in my room when I die?" Rodney asks, gazing at me from across the room.
I wonder if he can hear my heart thundering.
"No, no, I don't think so." I reply weakly. I stare at the VCR. I can't blink. My heart hurts.
Being home feels good, but I miss the three of them already. I talk to Rodney constantly over the Internet, or when my dad calls he'll give him the phone.
"I love you sis. I miss you. When are you coming back to visit?" He asks me repeatedly. I smile and tell him "soon I hope. I miss you so much."
My dad calls to soon after that and tells me Rodney isn't doing well. My heart drops down to the pit of my stomach. I have to force air into my lungs.
"We asked him what he wished for more than anything, and he told us that he wants to see his sister one more time before he dies."
"I know that would be really hard on you, but I think you can handle it. You're a strong girl, and it would mean the world to him if you'd come."
Sitting on the plane going to see my stepbrother one last time is a heart wrenching experience.
We play video games, and he lets me win. We watch movies in complete silence. Sherrie and my Dad buy a cake and we celebrate his twelfth Birthday early. He slowly unwraps his presents, and sets them to the side. We all eat dinner together, but Rodney doesn't eat. Although I'm here, in his home, I barely see him. He sleeps away the days, coughing constantly morning and night. The illness owns him, has taken over his little body, and there's nothing we can do to help.
"I love you Rodney." I lean down and hug him. I say goodbye to Sherrie and my Dad, and get on the plane to head back home. Tears run down my face as I watch the airport drift out of sight. It's tough to go see your dying step-brother, but it's much worse to say goodbye.
Sitting at the computer, about to go online, my mom walks in. I let go of the mouse and look at her. Something feels wrong. She leans against the edge of the doorway, her gaze lingering a little past my right shoulder. A frown tugs at the corner of her lips. I wait in silence, giving her time to gather her words for what she is going to tell me. Her lips move.
"Rodney died last night. Your Dad called a while ago, but you were at the store. He said he'll call you again later, and that he loves you."
I have just been punched in the stomach. My body crumples up in a ball, and sobs rake through me. I can't feel my mom's hand rubbing my back. My head shakes back and forth. No, no, no, NO. This does not happen. He does not leave like this. I refuse for this to happen.
I lay in bed with the blankets pulled up to my neck. My eyes close and there he is, waiting for me beneath my eyelids. Tears blur his image. Don't worry little brother I have a plan that will change everything. I'm going to pick up my remote and rewind to the day I saw you, with your eyes full of excitement. I'm going to take you to carnivals, and fancy restaurants, and we'll go and buy tons of video games and play them all night long. I'll take you to museums where swords are incased in glass. I'm going to show you the world Rodney, because you deserve to see it. You love me and you don't even know me. You love me because I'm your sister, and you don't care about anything else. You don't care what I look like, or that I'm really bad at video games, or that my heart isn't as big as yours. I'll take you to the best doctor in the world Rodney, even if he's on the other side of the world. Were going to walk in to his office and he's going to smile. It's our lucky day! He has just discovered the cure to Cystic Fibrosis! Were going back to the little white country house in Piedmont. The four of us are going to sit on that huge front porch and drink iced tea, even if it's cold outside. This is what will happen when I press the rewind Rodney, because I don't think I can handle this ending. I close my eyes, and there you are, just beneath my eyelids. Where would you like to go little Rodney? We have so little time before I wake up.
RODNEY KEITH BORDEN
HE WAS 11 YEARS OLD WHEN HE BECAME AN ANGEL
RODNEY WAS A WARRIOR ON EARTH
NOW HE IS AN ANGEL IN HEAVEN