I remember, the day Michael went home to God...
by Charlene Mannila
(Denver, CO )
Our Last Halloween 93'
They said they could hear my screaming from the street… “Oh my God NO!! Please, God, NO!!” I screamed… It was August 21st, 1994, the first day of school my Sophomore year of high school. I had just gotten home, about 2 hours prior, and was waiting for my big brother to call me from Chicago, so I could tell him all about it. You see, my brother and I were best friends. I loved having my big brother around, we were just getting out of that sibling rivalry phase, the constant tattling on each other, and fighting when the parents weren’t home. We had common friends, and started hanging out more. You’d have to know my brother, to know what a truly great person he was. Michael was that “carrot top”, red head, that old ladies loved to stop in the store and gawk over his hair, but our peers always came up with some new clever name to call him, “Carrot Top, Copper Head, Penny” etc. But Michael never let it get to him. He’d just smile and walk away. Michael was a very protective guy. Having grown up with an abusive father, he was the type who always looked out for females. You didn’t dare treat a girl bad when Michael was around, because he was not scared to fight. Well, now my big brother was gone, and I was left to face my battles alone.
Michael had moved home to Chicago, from Las Vegas, the end of my Freshman year. I snitched on him one time by mistake, and an argument at home with the parents, resulted in him moving out. So back to Chicago he went, to live with friends. Never did I think I’d regret that tiny mistake.
I was sitting in my bedroom, on my daybed, my shades drawn, just resting from the walk home, in the hot Las Vegas sun. I had my parents cordless out of their bedroom, laying on my bed. Normally, this would be no big deal, but I wasn’t allowed to have a phone in my room, so I took their cordless everyday when I got home from school. I patiently waited for my brother to call. I couldn’t wait to tell him all about the teachers I had, friends we’d ditched school with last year, and all the new things that were going on at school, when the phone rang. On the other end of the phone was my Uncle Joe, who my brother was living with at the time. “Hello” I answered the phone. “Char?” I could hear someone faintly on the other end, “he’s gone.” Huh? He’s gone? I thought to myself, “Hello?” I repeated again. “Char, he’s gone. It’s Joe”. He said. I was trying to figure out what he was saying? Gone, as in ran away? It sounded like Uncle Joe was crying. “What do you mean GONE?” I asked him. “He’s dead Char, I came home…” Joe tried to talk to me as I started to scream, “No!! NO!!! OH MY GOD NO!!! PLEASE GOD!! NOOOOO!!” I could feel the tears coming down my face, a lump forming in my throat. “Not my brother, NO! This is NOT happening.” I cried. He’s got to be lying to me, I thought. “I came home from work, and he was gone Char. I’m so sorry.” Joe cried into the phone. I didn’t know what to say, I fell to the ground, tears running down my face, just screaming “No” over and over. Not my brother, my only brother. “Why God? WHY?” I kept asking in my head over and over. My neighbors came running in the house to check on me. Not sure what was going on, knowing that neither of my parents were home. I just laid there in on my bedroom floor, crying hysterically, repeating “No”, I attempted to get up and go out to my living room, when our best friend Eddie walked in the house. I was in the hallway just off the living room that leads to my bedroom, when I fell into Eddie’s arms just crying. It was all such a blur, I felt Eddie’s arms around me, but I never saw his face. I can hear Jen and Ashley crying, but I cannot grasp their image. I can just hear the repeating words “I’m sorry Char… I’m sorry… “ But now I had to figure out how I was going to call my mom, and tell her my brother was dead.
The phone rang “Thank you for calling Smith’s Rancho and Charleston, how may I direct your call?” the voice on the other line said “May I have your Service Deli please?” and I was transferred “Service Deli, this is Betty” I heard. “Betty” I got out, through the tears “What’s the matter Char?” I sobbed, trying to tell her what was going on, as I felt a ball start back up in my throat. “Betty, I need my mom, Mike’s dead”, “What?” She asked in an unbelievable tone, “Hold on baby” and she put me back on hold. My mom came on the line, “This is Denise” my mom said “Mom, Mike’s dead, Joe just called me, something happened, Please come home!” I cried, begging my mom to get home quick. I could hear the phone drop on the other line, and from there, my day was a black moment in life.
The days came and went all to quick, my mom went home for his funeral, and I stayed in Las Vegas. I had so much hate in my heart, that mom wouldn’t have been able to handle me at the time. I found myself asking God, “Why? Why him God? Why would you take my brother so young? What did he do wrong?” over and over. I couldn’t understand how this could happen, and I placed a lot of blame on certain people.
But now today, 16 years later, I don’t miss him any less, the pain still hurts, and I still break down and cry. I look at my own children and see them doing the same things my brother and I did at the same ages. I can sit and look at them playing and see us. But even more so, I sit and look at them playing, and think of what an amazing Uncle he would have been. Not to forget his child that was born not even two months after his death, he would have been an awesome dad. Brother, I’ll see you on the other side.