All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The waves lap against my toes like bluegills nibbling at the limp bait remaining on a rusty fishing hook. A crab inches past, leaving a jagged line in the sand. I take my index finger and write two words. A single tear rolls down my cheek. The sun sets. Darkness has settled in to stay.
I was four when you were born. Your pink shriveled hands were the source of many escapee giggles from my little naïve mouth. “Prune fingers,” I’d call you. Wrapped in the mandated blue hospital blanket, your eyes stood out above all else. They were wide and bluer than the ocean’s waves. They spoke to me, brimming with curiosity.
“Where am I?” They seemed to ask.
My little four-year-old self prodded your bellybutton –not very lightly, I must admit- and said:
“Why Danny, you’re home of course.”
On your second birthday I got to stay home from Mrs. Gross’ kindergarten class. Monica had told me I’d missed cutting out little hearts for Valentine’s Day and a show of her stuffing thirty-eight fruit loops into her mouth. Mrs. Gross always said she had a big mouth. But that day was spent with Mommy, baking you a cake. It was going to be chocolate until we realized we’d never bought the chocolate chips. We had to settle for carrot cake instead. By the end of the day, we succeeded in making the kitchen look like a science experiment gone bad and had a little cake to show for it. After singing a highly off-key “Happy Birthday dear Danny” and watching you blow out a grand total of three candles, -one to grow on, of course-¬ we let you take the very first bite. You immediately spit it out.
“Yuck!” You pronounced, disgusted. I felt my face flush; wondering what could’ve gone wrong. Meanwhile, Mommy had gingerly taken a forkful of the concoction. She laughed.
“Violet,” She’d told me, “we forgot the sugar.”
I’ll always remember that day you found a wounded rabbit in the backyard. The poor guy was the tiniest, most helpless thing I’d ever seen. You latched onto it immediately, never letting it out of your eyesight. Most kids ask, “Mom, Dad, can I keep him?” Not you of course. You scooped him up, brought him into the house ignoring Mom’s shrieks and let him prance about your room. We played for awhile, passing him between us. It was then that I saw your arms. I blinked, but it wasn’t my imagination. They were, in fact, scarred by faint bruises. You then stood up and hunted down the blue sharpie that was running out. You wrote his name on a shoebox:
I laughed, forgetting that blue and black display. I’d thought “Ketchup” was the most genius name I’d ever heard.
About a month later, your name was Dan. No longer my little Danny. Whenever I let Danny slip, you’d give me the evilest glare: blue eyes as slits, nostrils flared up, and teeth gritted together. Being in middle school then, I always did my best not to burst into hysterics. But it was then I realized: you weren’t Danny, the animal loving little boy. You weren’t Danny, Prune Fingers baby. You were Dan.
The night we got the call you were swinging on the swing set, playing the game where you try to touch your toes to the highest leaf on the nearby maple tree. I’d been staring out our picture windows, just watching you play. I saw you struggling to reach even the lowest leaf. I watched as your legs tried to pump, but you barely got anywhere. The exasperated look on your face said it all. You knew something was happening to you. Once Mom and dad exchanged a glance, Mom called for you out the window. You started to run inside, got tired after a few steps, and walked the rest of the way. They took you to the room that used to be for time-outs but was now completely empty, save the Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls who still stared, mockingly, into space. I stood outside the door, listening to your reaction. When my mom said the word, I heard one of the dolls fall to the ground. I guess Leukemia is worse than I’d thought.
A week later when I came to visit you, it was as if you were the only rose stuck in a field of dandelions. Not even the brilliant yellow kind of dandelions, but the dead kind. The kind I used to pull from the ground and blow on fiercely, in order to get every little seed to fly away. In order to be able to make my little wish. It’s just to say, you didn’t belong. My eyes ran over kids, the exact opposite of you. Three rooms down the hallway was a little girl whose hair had fallen out. She was so skinny that you could count each one of her ribs with ease. A few more rooms down and I saw a boy, hooked up to a boatload of machines; not a place on his body wasn’t connected to a plastic tube. But then I looked at you. Your smile was still bright. You still had hair, the color of straw, covering your head. You still laughed and giggled with me. But as soon as you waved goodbye, I noticed all the splotches on your arms. I noticed the way your eyes drooped down, as if a wave of tired had washed you away. It was then that I’d erased every single dandelion wish from my childhood and made a new wish. A wish for you to live.
You’d been in the hospital for two months and I could tell you were fading. Your fatigue was worse. Your smile was slight. Your words came out crackly. Your bed was covered in clumps of your hair. Machines surrounded you, blipping and bleeping away. I noticed one and only one. The heart meter was slowing down, as your heart struggled to keep beating. It took all my strength to not have a breakdown, right then and there. My little Danny – no, Dan. You could sense my distress and reached out to touch my knee, lightly. You whispered:
“It’s going to be okay. I’m a good fighter.”
My eyes filled with tears, threatening to overflow.
“I know Danny, I know.”
When you didn’t correct me, didn’t give me that evil glare, I knew something was about to change. For good.
Waves are mysterious. They can calm you, a poetic lullaby. They can wash all your sadness away. It was August 27th, 2002 when we took your ashes and sprinkled them into the ocean. I realized it then. You are the waves. You were them yesterday, today, and you will be them tomorrow.
Sitting here, the sand now cold against my skin, I take one last glance at the sand and the message displayed:
As I walk away, I hear you splashing onto the shore, taking the two words into your blue watery depths. A blue identical to the one in your eyes, on the day you were born.