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Cancer not only affeccts the patient but everyone around him
I put on my black heels, stood in front of my mirror, and stared with a blank expression. I look in the mirror every morning, but this time it was harder. I straightened my back as tears rolled down my cheeks. But I had to go; I couldn’t stay up here any longer. I walked down the flight of stairs, and all I saw were eyes staring in my direction, but not directly at me. I could feel sadness in the room, and that was to be expected. This sadness was greater than the kind felt in these past months, but sadness none the less.
Two months earlier I woke up to a horrible coughing noise just outside my bedroom door. It stopped for a moment, but then started as loudly as before. I got up and looked outside to see my father holding the railing and coughing.
I walked towards him and said "Are you ok Dad?"
"Yes Courtney, I’m ok. I just have a tickle in my throat," He said between coughs.
It sounded like more than a tickle but I didn’t say anything because Dad always thought he was right, and he would fight to the death to prove it.
I slowly went back to my room to get ready for school. I slid open the double mirrors, revealing my closet. I pulled out a pair of ripped blue skinny jeans, and a white long sleeved fitted shirt. Walking over to my jewelry box I pulled out a long silver chain looped necklace. I pulled on a pair of black fringe boots and checked myself in the mirror. I didn’t bother straightening my long black naturally curly hair. So I just pulled my bangs behind my ear and rubbed a little bit of gel in it. Once I was happy with what I looked like, I went downstairs to my mom, dad and little sister. I grabbed Cheerios from the pantry, a bowl from the cupboard, a spoon from the drawer, and milk from the fridge. I dragged myself to the table and poured my breakfast. Laney was eating Tricks cereal with her little princess spoon. Her finer light brown almost blonde hair was neatly pulled up into a high ponytail.
The sunlight gleamed through the window onto the kitchen table as if it was just cleaned, obviously the doing of my mother. She always liked things to be neat and clean, and there was never a spot or a stain to be seen in my house. But it was what people didn’t see that was covered in spots but could never be cleaned up. From the outside my life looked perfect but it was the farthest from it because three months ago my father had been diagnosed with lung cancer. He had tried to cover it up, but his hair had started falling out from chemo and his cough had gotten worse. Sometimes at night I would hear him talking to mom while crying saying things like, "Lynn, if I die…" and "Make sure you let Laney know how much I love her and tell Courtney I will always miss her and remember her."
He was scared, and you could tell, but her reply was always, "David, don’t talk like that, you will make it through this."
Once I had finished eating, I put the bowl in the sink and washed it. I kissed my parents goodbye, got in my car, starting the ten minute drive to school. I loved this drive because I passed by many trees with yellow, red and orange leaves slowly falling to the ground. Sometimes I get sad when I go to school and se all my friends’ happy faces because all of their parents were healthy and happy. I know it was an awful thing to get mad about but I just couldn’t help it. I walked onto the school grounds up to my boyfriend Mathew and best friend Veronica and hugged them. We walked off to class as the bell rang. I paid a lot of attention in school so the day would go by slower and I could get home later. I still had to attend cheerleading practice since I was the co-captain. I hated myself for not wanting to go home but when I look at my dad I cry and I don’t want Laney to know there’s something wrong.
After practice I had gone home to see my mom sitting on the floor playing Candy Land with Laney.
"Mommy Courtney’s home!" Laney said as she ran over to hug me. "Do you want to paint with me? Mommy said we could."
I glanced up at my mom and she gave me a small yet caring smile.
"I would love to paint with you."
I pulled my brown hair up into a ponytail and followed Lillian over to the dining room table. I saw paper and two color paints.
"Here, you can use yellow and I’ll use pink."
"Where are the brushes?" I asked
"We get to finger paint" Lillian said.
"Oh do we now?" I said.
I sat with her and painted a yellow sun and she painted a kitty. It was your basic five year old art work, but I thought it was beautiful and nothing could change that.
Friday night I hung out with Mason. We watched movies in his basement. I liked hanging out with mason because he never asked me questions about my dad like everybody else did and if I wanted to talk about it, we would. I had on a white fitted Henley shirt with buttons down the middle, tight navy blue sweat pants and tan UGG boots. His feet were on the coffee table and my head was in his lap as we watched a scary movie. We stared at the screen as a girl that looked about seventeen (same age as me) walked up the stairs. Then she screamed when a man jumped out in front of her and swore he was going to kill her. I sat up and turned to mason. “Do you think it will hurt when my father dies?” I asked as I ran my fingers through my hair.
It was very quiet for a moment until Mason said “I don’t think it will hurt him as much as it will hurt for the people who knew him.”
I sat there and thought about it for a moment. He was right. I don’t know how Laney will react to this, or how we can tell her. My mother will be a wreck and I already know this. I just don’t know how I will react or how I will help my mother and Laney cope. Letting out a huge sigh I rested my head on mason’s shoulder. He put his arm around me and kissed the top of my forehead.
The next morning was Saturday and most teenagers would be thrilled by that, but for me, Saturday was the worst day of all. Dad had his chemo treatments every couple Saturdays and he had to be in the hospital for days, in pain, sick, and I could do nothing about it. He looked so pale and weak lying on the white hospital bed. He was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him because if I did, he would leave his own little world of peace and comfort and he would be brought back into the real world with pain and illnesses that couldn’t be cured.
Our life continued on like this for a month with Dad in and out of hospitals, me passing classes with straight A’s and pouring my life into cheerleading, and Mom doing her best to try and keep her life and sanity together. Laney was starting to notice that Dad couldn’t run around the backyard anymore because he was too weak, and she noticed mom and I weren’t smiling as often as we used to. My grades were still high but Laney had stopped painting. Life wasn’t as it had been six months ago. It’s true what they say: cancer not only affects the patient, but everyone around it.
My life didn’t even seem real anymore, every night I prayed that this was some sick and twisted dream and that Dad was ok and Mom was happy. But that wasn’t the case because this was real, not even my worst nightmares had ever been this bad. My Dad was quickly dying, and that was a fact. He had to stay in the hospital full time now and had very little hair left. The doctors gave him a month to live, and I hated knowing that. Even though we knew how little time he had, we didn’t plan for a funeral because we didn’t want to think of what it would be like if he didn’t make it. He hadn’t given up, so neither would I.
Mason and I had just taken to Laney to breakfast at I-hop. We were going to go to the mall and visit my Dad. We dropped my little sister of at my friend’s house then made our way to the hospital. We didn’t talk the whole way there. We just listened to the radio that’s music seemed to swirl through my ears and the throughout the car. Every once in a while a sad song would come on but I’d quickly change it. When we got to the hospital Mason told me he would wait in the hall. I hugged him and turned to face the closed wooden door.
"Dad?" I said as I walked into his hospital room. "How are you feeling today?"
He slowly looked over at me, and using all his energy, he managed to say’ "Not good."
Every other time I had visited him he had said "great" or "getting better" but this time he sounded terrible, like he had lost all his strength.
"Laney misses you."
"I know. Your mother came to tell me what was going on when you were both at school. She’s not looking too good either. Have you been eating? You look so pale and sick."
"Yes Dad, I’m fine. I’m just so worried about you. You’re now permanently in the hospital and the doctors have marked you with an expiration date just like a piece of food." Tears started to pour down my cheeks as I said this, but she didn’t respond. Dad?" I heard a long beeping sound and looked at the monitor. "Dad! Somebody help me! Dad, please wake up, please. I’m begging you just don’t go yet, please." Mason heard my screams and ran into the room. He looked shocked seeing my father’s lifeless limp body on the hospital bed. I felt myself uncontrollably crying and yelling as the nurses made me leave as they tried to resuscitate him. I fought with the nurses screaming shouting not wanting to leave my father’s side. Mason picked me up and I started kicking. He threw me over his shoulder and I looked up to see my father. They tried and every time they jolted him, I saw his body jump slightly, but nothing happened. It was too late, he was gone.
Mom had found out what happened when I called her, but I was crying so much that she could hardly understand me. But she didn’t need to understand me, because she knew that only one thing could make me like this, Mom. But Mason still took the phone from me and quickly said what had happened in hushed tones.
"I’ll be there soon." Was the last thing I heard from my phone that was pressed against mason’s ear.
“He’s gone.” I choked out coldly. Mason went in to wrap his arms around me but I turned away. “I, hate, you, Mason.” I said flatly. I didn’t have to see his face to know he was shocked.
“Because you… You shouldn’t have pulled me away from him! Maybe if he saw me or knew I was by his side he would have tried to hold on! Did you ever think about that? Now he thinks I don’t care about him! I wasn’t there when the nurses were trying to save him! Because you took me away! You took me away from my father!” As I was saying this, I knew it was coming out quickly, staggered and it wasn’t making any sense. I knew I wasn’t being fair but I was too disoriented to care. I knew my father was going to die. But it actually hit me that he was gone. He was gone forever. I began to cry again and mason held me in his arms. I tried to pull away but he wouldn’t let go. Giving up I let him hold me as I cried.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered in my ear. “I am so sorry.”
I sat up as he wiped the tears from my eyes. “I don’t hate you.” I said shaking trying to hold back the tears.
He gave me a small smile and moved my hair out of my face. “I know, you’re just overwhelmed and you’re upset. Everything’s going to be alright babe.”
I forced a weak smile and turned around when I heard the swinging doors open at the end of the hallway.
Mom walked through the double doors in tears with Laney. Laney rushed over to me and I hugged her as she started sobbing. I wanted to break down and cry with her but I knew it would only make her cry more. I picked her up and turned to mason.
"Where is he?" Mom said to the nurse behind the desk. "I need to see him, where is he! Where’s my husband? His name was David Lee Delray." She was yelling.
"Ma’am I’m sorry for your loss but I cannot let you in there yet."
"That’s my husband in there, and you’re telling me that I don’t even have the right to see his body?" She was crying while trying to hide her anger. Not anger towards the nurse, but anger towards herself. She wasn’t here when it happened, so she blames herself for his death.
"I’m sorry ma’am, please take a seat."
"Do not tell me to take a seat!” I watched my mother try to slap the nurse, who ducked. She put’s one knee up on the counter attempting to jump over the desk but is stopped by Mason as he grabs her and won’t let her go, as he did with me. They sat on the floor and cried. I buried Laney’s face in my shoulder so she couldn’t see her mother. Tears blurred out mason, my mother, the nurse, the hospital, my sense of reality, but they did not fall.
It has only been a week since that horrible day in the hospital. Mom’s letting me stay home as long as I need to. Laney isn’t as affected by this as Mom and I are, she’s only five, so she just knows that her daddy is in a better place now and she’s not in pain anymore. Veronica stops by every day, but I always send her away. I don’t feel like talking to anyone yet, it’s too soon. I’ve been in my room for this whole week, lying on my bed, under the covers, with a picture of Dad. His funeral is planned for tomorrow, I don’t know if I can bring myself to go, but I have to. He would be disappointed in me if I didn’t go to my own father’s funeral.
I get my black dress, and black shoes. Very carefully I pull a black silk ribbon from my jewelry box that my father had given me when I was little. I pulled half of my thick hair into a ponytail and tied in the ribbon, leaving the rest down. I get dressed, look in the mirror, and start to cry. I wipe the tears from my eyes and walk downstairs. There is a crowd of people downstairs that stare at me as I come down. I ignore them all. Not wanting to talk to my family members in fear I’d break down and cry. I go over to my Mom and hug her, asking where Laney is.
I walk out of my front door onto the huge rap around porch. The sky is gray as granite rock and the air as cold as my heart. It seemed as if Mother Nature was showing she knew my father had died. The wind lightly blew my hair passed my shoulders. I heard giggling on the side of the house I walked around the house to see Mason and Laney playing with dolls on the porch floor. I let out a small laugh and they looked up at the same time. Mason stood up while Laney smiled at me then continued playing.
“I was so worried about you.” He said as he wrapped his arms around me. “I called.”
“Yea, I know but I just didn’t feel like talking to anyone. Veronica came over every day, but I didn’t talk to her once. I feel bad about it”
“You shouldn’t. She understands we talked about it a few days ago. Are you ok? You look really pale.”
“Yea, I’m fine. I just haven’t been eating much.”
“Are you hungry?” I shook my head and turned towards Laney. “When I walked in your house she ran right up to me and asked if I wanted to play dolls. The only thing she’s upset about is she has to wear all black, and her tights are itchy.” He said quietly.
I smiled and nodded. “I know I’m happy she’s taking this whole thing well.”
“How are you taking it?”
I sighed.”Some days are better than others.”
We get in our cars and drive to the church. My mother rides in the limo with her two sisters and I drive my own car with mason and Laney. The ceremony is only a couple hours long and only my youngest uncle is the only one who speaks because the rest cannot speak, since they would break down crying. Mason shaded Laney from the tears and sadness of the room. I stood up in front of my friends, and family member’s.
“I wrote a poem for my father and I’d like to recite it for you.”
Some days the pain is stronger
It makes me sick and weak
I can’t stand this much longer
I just sit here and weep
I’ve shut my private door
And let no one in
Locking myself in a box
They try, but I won’t give in
You were like a rock
Strong, faithful and true
What worth has my life
Now I don’t have you
I was your first born
Daddy’s little girl
I took my own path
But was still part of your world
I was not the best
Guilty of neglect
But you know daddy dearest
I had so much respect
I always loved you
My dad, my star
Now my pain is
To worship you from afar
I love you now
As I did back then
I just hope... one day
I will see you again
I am so proud of you
Brave and strong to the end
Now when asked “how are you?”
There is no need to pretend
we all love and miss you so much, sleep well
and take care of all who went before you
forever in my heart, Love daddy’s girl.
I choked up a little bit in the end. But i looked up almost everyone had tears in their eyes with smiles on their faces. His casket is open and I took Laney to go up to it and look at him. I handed her my poem and she folds it up and puts in the pocket of his suit. He looks so peaceful, but you can tell that his soul is gone. He’s just a shell that once held an uncle, son, brother, husband and a father. She holds his hand and whispers she loves him. I set her back onto the floor as we walk hand in hand out of the church. Even though he is gone, the memory of him will remain in the hearts of people he loved forever