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I opened my eyes. My mom was standing over me, holding my hand. Mother's aren't normally supposed to hold their son's hand, but I was past the point of caring, or even trying to make her stop.
The room was dull, white, and the bed was uncomfortable as hell. But it was the least of my problems right now. Tears were pouring down my mother's face. She didn't look herself.
My mom had always been beautiful. Her long brown hair and piercing blue eyes made a model of her when she was in her twenties. Surprisingly, she didn't like it. She'd always maintained the fact that it made her feel worthless, superficial. She spent her days changing, strutting, pouting and posing. Ironically, my dad hadn't fallen in love with a strutting, posing, pouting 20-something year old. He married my mom when she was a smiling, singing, dancing 17 year old.
My dad wasn't anything special to the naked eye, but he was extraordinary in my eyes. He was your average 47 year old greying pop, but I'd never loved anyone so much. He was a banker, so he got relocated a lot. Well, actually, we were relocated with him, so I didn't have many close, long-lasting friendships. In fact, my dad was my best friend. Over the years, he taught me how to play soccer, the drums (badly), taken me to see every crappy tribute band that was local enough and made me in to a mini-him. And I loved being a mini-him.
I looked up at my mom, thinking how dreadful she looked. It was one of the only times I'd seen her not making sure she looked perfect. The first time she broke down at my bedside a year ago, I was dumbfounded. Now, it was an all-too-common occurance.
'Shh,' I hushed to my mom. She looked down at me and burst in to fresh floods of tears.
I couldn't help it, it was just the way I looked. I hadn't seen a mirror for a few weeks now, but I knew what cancer sufferors looked like. Frail, weak, ill; with pale faces, skinny arms and starey, sunken eyes. My grandpa had looked exactly the same five years ago. Everyone thought my dad was next in line. But eighteen months ago, I was the one that was diagnosed.
It barely came as a shock. When you find a lump "down there", it can't be good news. I first considered an STI, as one of my friends had contracted about eight months back, but in a situation like that, your mind instinctively fears the worst. So that's what I prepared myself for. Since my diagnosis, I had been preparing to be told that chemo had failed and that I was going to die. Since that moment happened, I realised I had to prepare myself for death.
I didn't go home after the doctor's had told me to give up, because I didn't want any visits; from friends or distant relatives. As much as I wanted to see them, say goodbye, I didn't want my current physical state to be their final memory of me. I wanted to be remembered as the joker, the type of guy who tried to do things right, but they always went wrong. The guy who, no matter how many mistakes he made or how serious they were, laughed it all off and didn't care.
So, for the last month or so, I'd been writing letters: personal goodbyes to everyone that would want one, everyone who I think deserves to know what I think about them, good or bad. Sometimes both.
My heart suddenly jumped, and I squeezed my mothers hand. There'd been about five "near misses" since I confined myself to the hospital bed, and every time, my mom had been next to me. My dad came rushing in, having heard my mom crying hysterically. He held her and dragged her away from my hand.
I mustered every last bit of strength that I had to reach out to them with both hands. They each grabbed one hand and held it, squeezing it.
'Don't cry,' I told them. 'I'm only going home.'
I felt myself fading fast. This was it. I was expecting death to feel more painful, I was expecting to be filled with various, pointless regrets. But I felt peaceful, nearly euphoric.
As I closed my eyes and let my head fall on the pillow, facing my parents, the monitor fell in to a long, monotonous beep. I'd died a happy, 18-year-old, man.