Starting to Live Again Pyramid Image.

Saskia Maartje Tielens
© Copyright 2000 by Saskia Maartje Tielens

I got the idea for this story walking by the graveyard in our town one day, thinking how awful it would be if my own mom or dad would die. I mostly don't write sad stories, but this one took a life of his own.

A knock interrupted the English class. Leigh and all her classmates looked up. The teacher, Mrs. McMire, went to open the door. It was the principal, with Leigh's dad.

'Leigh, would you come with us? Take your books with you please.'

Leigh did so, wondering what she had done, a little nervous.

She whispered to her friend Sarah, ' I'll call you later! ' She noticed that her dad looked very sad. She wondered why. She kept still until they were in the principal's office, then asked,' What's wrong? What did I do? '

' You didn't do anything, honey, it's about your mother. She's… ' His voice cracked. ' She's dead. ' He quickly said, ' She didn't have any pain, she was hit by a driver, a hit and run.'

Leigh couldn't believe it. 'That's not true! Say it isn't! Say it! Say it! '

' I'm sorry sweetie, it is.' Her dad says, really calm and quiet.

Leigh doesn't understand he can be so calm. Her whole world has collapsed. She has no mother anymore! Just like that!

'I wish it wasn't, but it's true. Come on; let's go home. '

'Should I tell your classmates, Leigh?' The principal asks, timidly, afraid to interrupt.

' Would you do that before I come to school?' Leigh answered, not knowing she would be so devastated tomorrow she wouldn't come to school. The principal nods. 'Thank you.'

 At first, during the ride home, Leigh is quiet, thinking about a life without mother. 'Why us? Why she? Her time wasn't up yet! She had lots of things I still haven't learned! I don't even know how to iron! She's supposed to teach me that! She won't be at my graduation, my wedding, my children, my first boyfriend, my sixteenth birthday. Anything that means a lot to me. It's not fair! ' She says mad, and then she starts to cry.

Her dad pulls over and puts his arms around her. ' I know, Leigh, I know. I'm sure she wanted to, but I guess it wasn't meant to be.'

They sit like that for a while, then Leigh, almost afraid that her father will say the wrong thing, asks, ' Mom didn't have any pain? She didn't know what happened? You're sure?'

Her dad nods. 'Lets go home. '

Once at home, Leigh calls Sarah. She dials the number she knows so well, but she never thought she'd use it to say this. 'Pick up! Pick up!! Pick up!' she screams silently. She feels a pain in her finger and looking down, sees she had wrapped the cord around it so tight it's turning purple. ' Sarah I need you!! Can I come over? I've got something really important to tell you. '

Sarah agrees, hearing her friend's voice. 'Come on over, no one's home anyway.'

Leigh doesn't move for a minute or two but then she makes her legs move and half sleepwalks to Sarah. She doesn't bother to ring the bell; she doesn't think of that, just walks in, since they never lock their doors.

'Leigh? I'm up here! ' Sarah yells, from her bedroom. 'Come on up!' Leigh does just that, but slowly, wondering how she's going to do this. She knows Sarah liked her mom a lot, and this was going to be hard. Sarah's at her desk, doing her homework.

'Sarah?' Leigh asked, her voice cracking. Sarah turns around quickly when she hears Leigh's voice. 'Sarah, my mom's dead. She's dead. She isn't going to come back. She had a car accident. A hit and run.' Sarah goes to Leigh and hugs her. Leigh hugs her back, gratefully, but really sad. They stand like this for a long time.

Finally Sarah speaks. 'Leigh, I don't know how you feel, so I'm not going to pretend I do. All I can say is that I'm really sorry that it had to happen to you. '

Thanks, ' Leigh says weakly, feeling the loss for the first time, as if telling Sarah had made it true. It felt like she had a hole in her heart that wasn't going to go away. Then she pulls away; saying her dad needed her.

'I understand. If you need me, just call and I'll be there really soon.' Leigh nods and closes the door behind her.


The funeral was hard. It was sunny. Leigh thought it was cruel, while she and her friends and family were saying goodbye to mom, it was good weather, and a lot of people went to the beach. Leigh felt mad. 'It wasn't fair that mom had to die, and it isn't fair that it's hot. You'd think that whatever was up in the sky would be able to get a little bad weather.' She caught herself thinking that.

Her dad was standing next to her. He half whispered,'It's good that a lot of her friends came. I'm nervous, are you?'

'I'm apprehensive, this is my first funeral, you know, I didn't think it would be my mom's.'

Then it's time for Leigh's dad to make his speech. He starts with the words, 'All of you knew Ann. Well, she died. Now she will live on in our memories. This sounds harsh, but it isn't. It's the truth. Her body is dead. Her spirit isn't. That will always live on. That's what she would want. I know I will love her forever. But she is the past. I hate saying it, but it's true.'

Leigh steps forward and sings a song. She has a beautiful voice; her mom always said that. It was a soothing song, quiet, like her mother. After her song she went back to her father. One by one Ann's friends stepped forward to say something. Then, all to soon, it was time to throw the first handful of dirt on the casket. Her dad went first, then Leigh. All of the people there went one at a time to say goodbye. Leigh felt strangely calm. She didn't have any tears left.

The ride home is quiet. Finally her father says, 'Leigh, we're going to miss her very much. I know that, you know that. But so are lots more people, all her friends. And she has lots; you saw that at the funeral. It was beautiful. I liked your song. It was her favorite, wasn't it?'

'Yes, it was. That's why I sang it.' Leigh answered, with a hole in her chest, where her heart was.


Leigh wakes up, feeling guilty. Her mom just died a week ago, and then you're not supposed to have a good dream! She lays in bed for a while, thinking about the day that is to come. Her first day of school after the accident. She doesn't have to go to school until 10:00. She hears her dad rummaging in the bathroom and gets up, throws some clothes on and goes downstairs. Her dad is eating cereal.

' You want some too?' he asked.

'No thanks, I'm not hungry.'

'Okay, but Leigh,' 'Yes?' 'I love you' he says, looking at his breakfast. He never said things like that.

'Me too,' she answers, wondering why she feels a little better, knowing her dad loves her.

The time creeps on. She finally can't stand it anymore and walks to school. When she's standing for the door of her classroom, she thinks about the room she's about to walk into. All those staring faces, all that pity. She knocks on the door and walks in, looking at the floor. Then she raises her eyes and sees Sarah. Sarah stands up and walks to her.

'Do they know?' Leigh whispers. Sarah nods. Leigh walks to the teacher and asks if she could say something. The teacher nods, a little unsure of what Leigh wants to say. Leigh turns to the class. She opens her mouth to speak, and closes it again, suddenly too nervous, too sad. Sarah nods, and Leigh opens it again.

'My mom died a week ago. Mrs. McMire told you that. I don't know what she said, so I'll just say what I know. It was a hit and run, the driver hasn't been found yet. Mom was dead at once, she had no pain. I didn't see her when she was dying; I don't know what she said. My dad didn't either. I don't see what the point is of this, this accident. All I know is that I miss her. It feels like my heart has a hole in it and it won't go away. I don't want pity, all I ask for is a little understanding.' Leigh stops, suddenly it's too much. She sits down and starts to cry.

'Leigh, do you want to go home?'

She nods. 'It's too hard for me now. I'll come back tomorrow.'

'Anne, would you bring her to the hall and talk to her, I think you know what to say. Sarah, you can follow, after 5 minutes, Leigh will wait.' Anne gets up and leads Leigh to the hall.

'What did she mean?' Leigh asks.

'My mom died 3 years ago, when I was 10. I know how you feel.'

'You do? You know all about the pain, the sadness? I know it's only the first week, but it feels like she's been dead for a few weeks, months, years.' Anne nods. 'Is your pain over?' Leigh asks.

"I wish I could say it was, but it isn't. It will always be a part of me. But it weakens. Some days I don't even think about my mom. It sounds terrible, but it's good. I have to get on with my life. I know she wants for me to do that.'

'But it's so hard, imagining that I'll have peace with my mother's death.'

'You'll learn. But for right now, just be sad. You need that. And you know, if you want to talk to me, just call me. I had a friend who knew how I felt and it helped me a lot.'

Sarah walks to them. 'Leigh, are you ready?'

Leigh says,' Thanks Anne, yes I'm ready.' She stands up, knowing she had made a friend for life.


Hi mom.

I know this letter will never reach you, but maybe you'll know anyway. It's been a year ago now. I still miss you, but it's getting better everyday. There are days I forget you. Anne has helped me a lot, since her mother had died too. She knows how I feel. Sarah been helping me a lot too, by just being a friend for me.

Dad is learning how to be a dad and a mom. He won't take the place of you, but he's doing his best. It's hard for him.

But it stinks that you died. It really does. What ever anyone says, I know that's true. I don't know why you had to die, I didn't think your time was up here on earth. I don't know where you are now, but I like to think you're on a cloud watching me and dad, and knowing we miss you. We really do, but we have to get on with our lives.

Somedays we are so sad, others we have fun. In the month after the accident, we couldn't imagine that we would ever laugh again. But we feel better now. I used to wonder why a lot. It finally hit me. We were living again, instead of surviving. It felt good.


I'm 13 years old and I live in The Netherlands. I've always written stories, some good, some bad. More bad than good, however, I have won the Young Author's Fair once. I try to write a few paragraphs a day, about anything.

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