Author's note: As a 16-year-old journalist living in suburban Chicago, I’ve always sought to reach a wide... Show full author's note »
Fake“Hey girl, you ready to get yo’ paint on,” exclaimed my eager best friend.
“Yeah let’s get started, whoa!”
“Are you okay; you seem a little off?”
Crap. Too much sparkle.
“Yeah, umm … I just found out my father died.”
“Oh my god, I am so sorry!”
Sorry for what? Did you give him cancer?
“It’s OK, don’t worry about it, happens to everyone,” I lied again.
It was a lot of fun painting the windows and hanging streamers. Decorating work was just what I needed to get my mind off of him.
“Mom, really I’m fine,” I said exasperatedly. This was the thirteenth time she asked me since I got home. At this point that horrible question did not bother me. I suppose this is because I have yet to learn its meaning, its implication.
“OK, but don’t forget to write a note to each teacher explaining why you will be missing their class on Tuesday.”
The next morning I walked up to each of my teachers and gave them that 37 word note that is supposed to explaineverythinging.
Hello (teachers name),
Please excuse Danealle from your (class period) class. Her father passed away and she will be at his funeral on Tuesday. Please give her whatever homework she will be missing.
Unfortunately, the full severity of the loss decided to hit me that same day; yet another reason to hate Mondays. With every note I gave out it became harder and harder to keep from breaking down. Especially when each teacher asked that same irritating question, “Are you OK?” As I answered their questions I could feel myself falling deeper. It felt like I was falling down a dark shaft with no way of stopping. I suppose this is how the Titans felt when Zeus trapped them in the pits of Tartarus.
“Oh my gosh!” “Are you OK?” “How did it happen?”
“It’s not a big deal,” I lied for the third time.
“Yes of course I am, I think?”
I don’t know what’s worse, hearing the same questions or seeing their reactions. My male teachers all wore the same look of discomfort. They did the polite thing and said they’re sorry then went on teaching. The female teachers were more comforting. They offered to postpone an assignment or two and offered some words of advice.
I know they mean well, but it didn’t help in the way they thought it did. On the one hand, it felt wonderful to know I always had someone to talk to. On the other, it frightened me that they thought I needed to talk to someone.
“We’re almost there,” my mother said. “They will probably go out to lunch after this; do you want to go to?”
“Yeah, sure,” I lied for the fourth time.
My mother and I are sitting in the car on our way to the funeral. I’m wearing all black, though if I had it my way I would be in red. I had on black dress pants, ballet flats, and a thespian style turtle neck. I wore a beret atop my head in order to complete my “Jew meets Broadway” ensemble.
As the car drove at 40 miles per hour I looked out the window. The trees zoomed by in a blur of autumn colors. Colors that used to bring joyful memories of crunching leaves and warm laughter now bring painful reminders of what used to be. I got sick of looking and thinking, so I just stared.