Engraved In My Memory
I checked the time, 1:00 am. As my eyes glanced around the room, all I could see was my family, with expressions I can’t even describe. There was a sort of sadness in the entire room. I scrambled across the room and sat in my chair, pulled my knees up, and wrapped my arms around them. Something was wrong, more wrong than I realized. I could feel it. My mom muttered something I didn’t quite understand as she went back to my dad’s side. “What’s wrong?” I asked. She hurried to my side. “Please go get some more ice from the waiting room, honey.”
“All right.” As I got up I felt something was completely wrong, but went to do what my mom had asked me to do anyway. I struggled to get a grip on myself as I walked down the busy hallway. Once I reached the ice machine, I felt a sharp pain in my stomach, a gut feeling that something bad was about to happen. I almost dropped everything I had in my hands and started running down the hallway back to my dad’s hospital room. Once I got to the door I hesitated, scared of what I would see, what I would hear, of what to think. As I finally worked up the courage to walk inside the room, the first face I saw was my mother’s. There was something buried in her eyes that I couldn’t be sure of—and it scared me. I stared for another minute, shocked, paralyzed. I could feel something, panic maybe, building up in my chest. My whole body went numb. I couldn’t feel anything below my neck. My knees must have started to shake because the walls of the room were suddenly wobbling. I could hear my heart pounding faster than normal behind my ears. I closed my eyes and tried to breathe normally, tried to pretend it wasn’t happening, that it was all just a dream and none of it had ever happened. “Just a dream,” I told myself. I forced myself to open my eyes, nothing seemed to go away. I hoped that I was fainting, but to my disappointment, I didn’t lose consciousness.
I walked up to the side of my dad’s bed and held his hand, one last time. His hands were warm, and I knew if I wanted to say something to him I had to say it to him now. “I love you,” I whispered.
I felt his hand squeeze my hand. Even though he was sleeping, he could still hear us. But his grip slowly started to fade. I looked up at him. I saw him take his last breath, and just like that, he was gone. It felt as if the waves of pain that had only lapped at me before were now reared high up and had washed over my head, and I felt as if I was never going to be able to resurface. He was there for my very first breath, and I was there for his last.
I have learned to not take every day I get for granted, but as a gift. To cherish every single moment I have with my family and the ones that I love no matter the circumstances, especially my mother who had to switch gears to become a mother and father combined just to care for me. And special love and thanks to A.J Duffy for helping me express my feelings and write this story.
17 – Graduating high school and enrolling in college, knowing my dad’s proud, but feeling that hole in my heart knowing he’s not here to see the accomplishments I have achieved and witness my diploma being received. Just got word from my uncle he is going to jail again—he’s been on the run for a year now. “Money was too good,” he said. Won’t be able to attend my graduation. Might be locked up for 16 years. Said my goodbye last night.
16 – Getting mad going to church every Sunday. I believe in God but then I don’t. I’m confused. I’m really mad at him for not answering my prayers. Uncle Andy got stabbed by a gang, told me it wasn’t over drugs, but I don’t believe that.
15 – Uncle Andy came back. Promises me he won’t leave again. On principle’s Honor Roll and got baptized. Mom’s happy. Stopped sleeping with my mom, started sleeping in my own room. Having communication issues with my mom. We don’t talk to each other much about personal things.
14 – I got a boyfriend. I don’t know how boyfriends are supposed to be. I wish my dad was here to tell me. Messing up in school. I know my mom isn’t proud but don’t feel like trying anymore. I wish this was a bad dream.
13 – Mom tells me she wants me to get baptized at our new church. I don’t want to. God didn’t help me and I’m mad at him. I don’t pray to him anymore.
12, 11 – I wake up in the middle of the night because Mom won’t stop crying. She cries every night. She says it’s my grades, but I know it’s not that. I want to go to heaven. I think committing suicide will help.
10 – I’m starting middle school. Dad wasn’t there for my graduation for elementary. My mom says he was, but I didn’t see him. Mom stopped going to church. Dad’s side of the family doesn’t want to visit me anymore. Reminds them too much of my dad. I feel abandoned. They don’t love me anymore.
9 – Dad passed away, I don’t know where he went. People tell me he went to heaven. I want to go to heaven to see him. People from our church told us we didn’t have enough faith in God and that’s why he died. My mom got really mad and started crying on our way home after church. What did they mean?
8 – My Mom told me I’ve missed too much school and I have to start going every day. I don’t want to leave my dad. I like seeing him every day. I heard him telling my mom he wasn’t going to make it. I’ve prayed to God for 3 years now, he hasn’t gotten better.
7 – Daddy goes to Cedars Sinai Hospital every week now. I don’t like going there, it’s too cold and their food isn’t as good as Titos Tacos or Pollo Loco where my dad used to take me every week. They don’t like giving me bagels with cream cheese every hour in his room, they told me they have to work. But I get hungry, and I like bagels with cream cheese better than the jello and juice boxes they give my dad every day.
6 – Daddy’s really sick, his hair and fingernails are gone, and he looks like a skeleton. I can’t sleep with him anymore because I move a lot and hurt his leg at night so I have to sleep with Mommy only. Daddy sleeps in my room now by himself. I miss sleeping with him. I hear him throw up a lot. My mom told me dad has Cancer, and I think that’s a stomach flu. Grandma told me to pray to God and he will get better. The nurse lady at school keeps giving me canned foods and Barbies to take home. She’s so nice, I think she likes me better than the other kids.
5 – Daddy has a bump on his leg. He told me not to tell Mommy. He doesn’t want to worry her.
4 – Grandpa just died, where did he go? I miss him and the cookies he’d buy me. Daddy takes me to eat Pollo Loco and play at the park to forget about it.
3 – Uncle Andy doesn’t visit me anymore. Grandma and I used to visit him at Ralph’s where he worked, but he doesn’t go there anymore. They told me he went to jail. What’s jail? Daddy tells me not to worry, and I’ll see him soon.
2, 1 – I like being with my mom and dad. I also like the Barbie song and the Little Mermaid.