Don't Let Go

Written by Vicki

My latest story is an essay written by Owen Salinger. It's set in the year 2010. Owen is 17 years old and a senior at Grant High School. In it Owen writes about his life since his parents' deaths. ----------------------------------------------------------------------

by Owen Salinger

What can I say about my life? It hasn't been an easy seventeen years, but I've managed to survive thanks to my family.

It all started on March 22nd 1994. That's when my parents, Nick and Diana Salinger, died. They were killed a car crash by a drunk driver-Walter Alcott-on the corner of Van Ness and California. My siblings explained the whole thing to me when I was old enough to understand, and I still haven't forgotten the details about that fatal night.

Anyway, I was 5 months old when they died. I'm still a bit bitter about the whole thing because, unlike my siblings, I have never gotten to know my parents. All I heard were stories and saw photographs (I'm still in awe about how much both my sisters really look like my mother.) My parents sounded like very good and real and honest people. They had their problems and their own obstacles to face, of course. For example, my grandfather Jake left my mother when she was only 11 years old. My father also had his own problems: he was an alcoholic and had a huge temper.

My parents managed to get past those problems, though. My dad quit drinking and made himself better. For my mother and for my eldest brother Charlie. After that, they were the happiest couple ever and made a good life for Charlie and for the rest of us.

Charlie. I've got to say, he's my role model. A huge influence in my life. He was like a father to me since my parents died. He really grew up from the moment they were gone. From what I hear, he was an irresponsible, immature, philandering 24-year-old. But he shaped up. He dropped everything and took care of us. He didn't want to at first, but he had to do what he had to do.

Charlie didn't hate taking care of us. He grew to love it. It changed him so much and made him the responsible and loving man he is today. And when his girlfriend Daphne gave birth to my niece Diana twelve years ago, it completely changed him.

He finally has his own life. I don't hate him for that; for leaving. He deserves it. He deserves what he wants do with his life. He and his wife (his long-time love, Kirsten) now live in Chicago with Diana, who is now twelve years old; and Joshua, their own 10-year-old. Kirsten thought she could never have kids, but through advances in medical research, she managed to give birth to Joshua. Their miracle child; and they also have Michael, the 4-year-old they adopted.

Charlie's an architect in Chicago. Something he always loved doing. Kirsten is a kindergarden teacher. She loves kids and this job is so perfect for her. I'm real happy for the both of them.

I live in the house we grew up in, with my brother Bailey and his wife Sarah. They were high school sweethearts and had some rocky times throughout their relationship: Bailey was an alcoholic (like my father), he cheated on her, and hurt her in many ways. Never physically, of course. Bailey would never do that.

They broke up a few times. The worst was when Sarah moved to New York City to look for her birth father (she's adopted.) Bailey and Saarh were having their problems and the separation was hard. But their relationship stood the test of time: she was away for three years, found her father, and returned home to Bailey. I'm glad she came back because she and Bailey really love each other. A little too much: all they do is make out and kiss and call each other pet names! Jeez, it's as if they weren't married with children (Twins Nicholas and Robin, ages 6.)

Bailey still owns Salingers', the family restaurant. I'm glad he kept it going. When Charlie nearly sold it, Bailey took a stand and got it all to himself. I'm happy it's still in the family. Sarah's a big-shot lawyer. Which is great, if ever I get into trouble and need defending. Just kidding! I'm a good guy.

Now, my sister Julia. She still lives in San Francisco, but is never around much. She's one busy 31-year-old! She's currently on a book tour plugging her 5th book. She loves writing; always has and always will. We always used to make jokes about how we were related to J.D. Salinger and that that's where Julia got her writing talent from.

We see her husband Justin around, though. He stops by the house every once in awhile. He's a journalist for the San Francisco Inquirer. It took Julia and Justin a long time to get together. After Julia's miscarriage at the age of sixteen with his child, their relationship slowly fell apart. They remained the best of friends, though. Even during her marriage with Griffin and her abusive relationship with Ned, he was there for her. When he returned from Yale, their platonic relationship blossomed into something more.

My sister (and best friend) Claudia is in New York City. She attended Columbia University and then to New York's Conservatory of Music, where she perfected her violin skills. She is now playing with the New York Symphony Orchestra. We all visited her last year and heard her perform. She was amazing!

Everyone is so proud of her. She had a hard time growing up with all the problems she's been part of. She grew up too fast. But she is a mature, smart and levelheaded girl. I love her and admire her. Claudia may be 27, but she's not married yet. She does have a serious boyfriend named James, but she's not ready to tie the knot. She's too busy.

Since this is my essay, I suppose I should talk about myself. I'm a senior in high school and I'm hoping to attend Harvard in the fall to become a doctor. I remember visiting Charlie in the hospital when he had cancer. I was young, but I remember him in so much pain. He always put on a brave face for me. I'd love to help people the wat Dr. Rabin helped Charlie.

Even though us Salingers are scattered all around the country, we still keep in touch. Everyone comes back home for holidays and birthdays. We get together at the house and have our family dinners at the restaurant. That's something we've always done. We'll never let go of that and we'll never let go of each othe. That's what we learned from the moment mom and dad died. To never let go and to stick together. That's what we've been doing for almost seventeen years now, and that's what made us the close-knit family that we are today.

I love how we all hung on to things that are important to us: Bailey never let go of the restaurant, Charlie never let go of architecture, Julia never let go of writing, and Claudia never let go of the violin. Nobody let go of their loves either; Bailey and Sarah, Charlie and Kirsten, and Julia and Justin.

I'll never let go of someone I love either. Her name is Joanna. We've been dating for a year now, and I love her so much. I'll always remember something Charlie said. It was the speech he gave the day of his wedding to Kirsten: "When you find someone that you love, you grab onto them with both hands and you don't even think about letting go."

I took those words to heart. I may have been five years old then, but I understood. I love Joanna and that won't change. We may be together forever and maybe not. That's the way life is: you never know. But even if she leaves someday, I'll love her forever and I'll never let go of that.

We'll never let go.