Niagara Falls. When you think of those words and that place, the word ‘safe’ doesn’t come to mind. I mean sure there are railing and such but you wouldn’t have to do much to get around them. This is what went through my mind when my Aunt suggested we go there as a summer getaway. Although beautiful and somewhat serene, the loud, thunderous falls never really struck me as fun. But we decided to go anyways.
So we were off. Eight kids and four adults. I was just a teenager at the time but was treated as a thirty year old due to my strong character and clear values for what I thought was right, wrong, safe and unsafe. The other seven siblings of mine looked to me as a sort of nanny I suppose.
Well, anyways, there we were. Standing near the drop off of the falls looking over into the misty lake. I had heard any stories about the people that had fallen off that edge, and whether they were true or not, I believed them. So you could probably guess that I was not about to let any one of us get even close to the edge.
Just in case, I made a head count. Only eleven out of twelve. I counted again. Same. I panicked.
“Where’s Bill?” I shouted above the roar of the falls. My mother glanced at me with a confused expression.
“He was with you…wasn’t he?” A panic of her own contorted her thin face. “Oh my Soul!” She looked around frantically. “He’s not here.”
My heart pounded. Billy was so small. So unprotected. I should have been watching him! Despite my fears I ran to the railing closest to the drop-off and looked over. “Billy!” I cried, but there was no sign of him. “We have to get help! What if he’s dead?! It’s all my fault!”
Everyone just sat there with sullen looks on their faces. Then my Aunt Martha counted the kids again. She turned to me, her face pale. “What about the twins? Tell me they’re here.”
“No! No, no, no, no! This is all my fault!” I paced back and forth. They weren’t dead. They weren’t gone they were just lost. They probably even went to find the restrooms. Yeah! The restrooms!
“I think I know where they are!” I said triumphantly, but when I looked up, no one was there! My parents, my aunt, my uncle. Gone! “No. This isn’t happening! I am in a dream.” I pinched myself non- stop but never woke up and it hurt every time.
“I have to go get help!” I muttered to myself and headed towards the nearest building. I didn’t know what it was, but a security guard had to be there. When I ran inside, it was a gift shop full of stuffed toys and bears.
I looked around for a worker but couldn’t find any.
“SURPISE!” My whole family jumped out behind stuffed bears and rock candy with party hats on their heads.
“Happy Birthday!” My mom said. I was shocked, stunned and speechless.
So that was it. My sweet 16 that was nearly a month away. Who would have expected? My family wanted to make it extra special. And they did. I never felt more loved in all my life. So after that, I sort of liked Niagara Falls. I mean, sure it’s not the safest place in the world, but I learned that it didn’t have to be. When you are with family, you are always safe. No matter where you are.