No Facing Reality

January 4, 2008
By Taylor Aben, DeWitt, MI

I practically flew into the diner with the most excitement anyone would ever witness in their lifetime. The diner is more of a bar downtown where most of the high school kids hang out, but I wasn’t the usual high school kid. Lewis works here and he’s been my friend for about one month now. I haven’t had a friend since 6th grade. I’ve always been the quiet and smart girl because my mom pushes me so hard.
I looked around and noticed Lewis standing behind the counter at the bar. I skipped over to him and sat down on one of the stools in front of him.
“You’re never gonna guess what today is,” I said with a smile on my face that no one could have gotten rid of.

“Oh, hey Emily. Today? Well, today is Thursday….and….,” he searched for a guess, but I cut him off before he could even try.

“My dad’s coming home today!” I screeched. “He’s been in Arkansas for the last two weeks and now he’s coming home tonight!” I couldn’t help but reach over the bar counter and hug him.

“Oh my god. That’s great. Well why are you here? Shouldn’t you be planning a surprise dinner or something?”

“Well, yeah. That’s basically why I’m here. I need an order of take out food.”

Lewis frowned at me suspiciously. “Your dad’s coming home after being gone for two weeks and you came to here to get food?”

We laughed for a couple seconds and I said, “Yeah, well I just found out a few minutes ago, so this was the closest place I could drive to before he got home.”

“Well then, what can I get you?” Lewis asked taking out his tiny notebook.

I ordered the food and was on my wait out the door before I could even wave goodbye to Lewis. On the way home I went a little over the speed limit, but in this small town, we could hardly afford more than a couple police cars and they usually hung around in the city. There’s no harm in a tiny bit of speeding, right?

I had butterflies in my stomach the whole ride home and when I pulled into the driveway my dad’s car was already there. So much for a surprise dinner when he walked into the door.

I turned the car keys to stop the car and ran up to the front door. I opened the door carefully, trying to keep the food intact, and ran into the house, toward the kitchen.

“Dad?” I called to him. Once I reached the kitchen I was shocked by what I saw. Mom was blankly staring at what looked to be a letter, just as shocked as I was, and crying, while dad was by her side trying to comfort her.

“Mom……dad,” I said quietly. “What’s wrong?”

After somewhat of a long pause, dad spoke, “We should talk. Come to the table and sit.” I set the food on the kitchen counter and walked over to the dining room table and sat across from dad.

I was so worried and I just needed to know right away. “Tell me. What’s going on?”

Dad couldn’t seem to look me in the eyes and he fidgeted with the cloth placemats on the table. “I went to the doctors two weeks ago, before I left for Arkansas. They were worried about a few things, so they decided to draw some blood and have it tested. I received a phone call today and they wanted to schedule me an appointment for this afternoon, before I came home.” (I have not decided what disease her dad will have yet, but he will have about 3 months to live. Suggestions would be great.)
After a few days of crying and staying in my room, I decided to go to the kitchen for some breakfast.

Dad was standing at the stove flipping pancakes and whistling as if it was just another Sunday morning. How could he just pretend nothing was wrong and think we would go along with it? Mom actually seemed to be just fine, too. She was sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper.

This made me so angry. “How can you two just stand around like nothing happened? Dad, you're dying! You can't pretend that's not happening.” I've never really been angry with my dad, so I wasn't yelling, but I was so annoyed.

“Emily, listen. That's not it at all and you know it,” mom yelled at me, as she stood up from the table with her fists on her hips.

“Honey, please,” dad gestured for mom to stop yelling. “Come here, Emily,” he took my hand, led me into the living room, and sat me down on the couch. “We're not pretending anything. We have to make the most out of the time we have left together. Everything will be okay. You'll get through this,” he explained calmly. He always seemed to know what to say to calm me down, but I couldn't keep these thoughts out of my head.

“But, dad, you won't be okay. You'll be gone when I need you the most. There has to be something they can do. Something to treat it.”

“Emily, there's nothing they can do and you know it. It could even be hundreds of years before they find treatment, let alone a cure. We both know something is on your mind and this isn't it.”

By then mom ran upstairs crying and dad was right. I'd gotten over the fact that in a few months he would be gone. The truth was it was mom. I couldn't stand her and with dad gone, things would turn into chaos. I told him everything. He just listened and told me the three of us would work it out before he passed.

Later that day, we all decided on a plan for spending time with dad. Monday through Friday mom and dad would spend time together and in the afternoons all three of us would be together. On weekends I had dad all to myself, without mom.

As time went on, we spent so much time with dad, and I learned that mom wasn't all that bad. As long as I tried hard to keep our relationship okay, we'd be fine. I realized I was going to be okay and dad helped me figure that out. He always seemed so calm through it all, but I guess he had to be. How else could he act? He needed to show me and mom that we would be fine and that he was okay. And right now he is. Right now, he's just fine.

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