Monday, November 20th, 2017. 5:23 am. My phone rang, I picked it up. Unknown Caller I.D. I slid to the right to answer.
“Hello?” I said with a confused tone. It came out as almost a whisper.
“Hello, is this Luke Williams?” A lady asked in a cold voice with a hint of empathy.
“Yes, this is him,” I responded, unsure why anyone would call me at 5 am.
“We need you to come to the hospital. It’s about your dad,” I heard her say, but I wasn’t paying attention.
My heart stopped. I hung up the phone. She didn’t have to say another word because I already knew what had happened. He died. My dad died. I knew this day was coming, but I didn’t think it would be today. Today is the day. I managed to put on my shoes and run all the way to the hospital.
I got to his room and nurse Holly was already there. She was holding his hand. There were tears running down her cheeks. I ran into the room and my eyes began to water. Nurse Holly’s arms wrapped around me; her tears made my shoulder wet. I felt like my life had just been torn apart from me and I was just a ghost standing in the middle of nowhere just staring into the void. Someone had hauled away the most important thing in my life. I wanted my dad back. He had been the best thing in my life. Since my mom left us when I was 4, he took it upon himself to take care of me. He was always there for me; I couldn’t believe my dad, my hero, was gone. He protected me, he loved me, he fought to stay alive for me. And he never gave up. But I want him back. His hand was cold, his lips were purple, he was pale, he looked peaceful and I hated it. I hated this. My dad was dead, and I couldn’t do anything about it.
I saw a shadow in my dad’s room. I turned around to see the guys standing there. Their eyes were red. All of them. They looked pale too. They all walked towards me and wrapped their arms around me. He loved all of us with all of his heart and, now, he was gone. Just gone. I’m scared. I’m terrified. I’m alone. I’ve got no family, I’ve got no mom. And now I’ve got no Dad. Cooper, Shawn, Mike, Eric, their dads, these guys, were my family now.
This thing that has no cure; you can’t get better from it. Just worse. Once you have it, it’s there, and there's nothing you can do about it. My dad got hapless, that’s all. It was an incurable disease and there's nothing that can stop it. The motor neuron in my dad’s brain had died so he couldn’t move anymore. He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t walk, he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t eat, he couldn’t move, he couldn’t do anything. Just fight. But even the most powerful machine gets worn out. And he was fighting for me; to not leave me alone. He didn’t want to leave me alone. I was ready for this day, the day his body just gave up. Not him, he never gave up. His body had said I’ve been fighting for 5 years, I’m tired, I want to sleep. And it went to sleep, simple as that. So did he, he didn’t believe in God, neither did I. Many people say that when somebody is sick, they usually turn to God. But he didn’t. So I believed he was gone. That’s it, my dad is gone. It sucked but it’s true. No heaven, no watching over, no spirit or ghost. Just gone.
I was sitting next to my dad’s bed, holding his hand, when I started remembering all the times that he was my hero.
I was 4. I was sleeping. My parents fought every single day. They fought about everything. They fought about me, about work, about money. I didn’t usually know what they were fighting about because I didn’t care.
I woke up because of a fight, no idea what it was about, and I heard a door slam. It was the main door. I came out of my room to see my dad sitting at the edge of his bed. He was mad. Very mad. But, as soon as he saw me, he calmed down.
“Hey, kiddo,” He said to me with a sad expression. I looked into their room and all of mom’s thing were gone.
“Dad, wheres mommy?” I asked him confused. I had no idea what was going on.
“Your mom is gone kiddo, it’s only the two of us now,” he said to me. I was very confused. Where did she go? Why did she go? Why didn’t she say goodbye? Was this my fault? Was she ever coming back? Will I ever see her again? My mom never came back. And from that day forward my dad became my protector, my hero.
I was 6. First grade. I didn’t know how to read yet, well, I did, but I was struggling. I was failing Reading class and my teacher thought it would be best if I stayed behind a year to catch up. My dad didn’t like that idea at all. He took it upon himself to teach me. Every day when I came home from school, he would spend two hours teaching me. We read everything in the house. All of the books we could find. When 1st grade ended, my teacher was so impressed with how much I had improved that she decided I could stay and head on to 2nd grade.
I was 7. Second grade. I decided that I wanted to try an instrument. Guitar. My dad bought me a guitar, it was brown. It was beautiful. He had asked Shawn’s dad to teach me. I learned quickly, but I struggled sometimes remembering the chords, so my dad practiced with me every day. He worked from home, so it was easy for him to practice with me. We had a little studio at home since my dad was a producer. He showed me the studio; it was the first time I was allowed to see it. He recorded me playing “I miss you” by Blink 182, and that was the first time I recorded a song, ever. And it was the first song I ever learned.
I was 12. 6th grade. I wanted to try out for the soccer team but I sucked. All of the kids made fun of me because I wasn't that good at it. I practiced every day after school in the backyard when dad was working. I practiced and practiced. One day I was crying. I was sitting on top of the soccer ball crying and my dad came outside.
“Hey. what’s going on?” He asked, putting his arm around my shoulder.
“Nothing,” I said, wiping my eyes as fast as I could.
“Come on kiddo, tell me.”
“Fine, I just wish I was better at soccer,” I responded
So he practiced with me, and I noticed that he was struggling while running, I knew something was off. He fell and I helped him up. His feet were getting tangled up when he ran. Something was wrong.
I was 13. 7th grade. I was at the hospital. A doctor was in front of me. He was telling me my dad’s diagnosis. ALS. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, it’s a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. That’s what he said. He said that half of all people affected with ALS live at least three or more years after diagnosis. Twenty percent live five years or more; up to ten percent will live more than ten years. I couldn't hold the tears after I heard the news. My dad was going to leave me. I went in and hugged him.
“It’s okay kiddo. It’s going to be okay. I will fight as long as I can, okay?”
“Okay,” I responded. And he did.
I was 15. 9th grade. I was in my bed looking at my phone and something caught my eye. The Ice Bucket Challenge. It was a challenge that consisted of pouring a bucket of iced water on top of you to raise money and awareness for ALS. Everyone was doing it. The Rock, Zac Efron, Leonardo DiCaprio, even Eminem. They were all doing it, they were all raising awareness. Leonardo DiCaprio even donated $100,000 to the cause. I was so happy. Everyone in my school was doing it and I was looking through Instagram and I saw Shawn’s.
“Hi everyone, I’m Shawn Johnson. My best friend’s dad was diagnosed with this disease 2 years ago. This is a disease that affects a lot of people throughout the world. I want to tell my best friend, Luke, to hold on. People are doing this for him, for families just like his. Dude, I’m here for you. I want to nominate Luke Williams to take on and do the Ice Bucket Challenge. In addition, my family would like to donate 1,000 dollars to the research of the disease.”
He dumped a bucket full of iced water on top of himself and all I could do was laugh. All of my bandmates did it and so did I. Shawn’s video went viral for a moment. Everyone in my school was watching it; they all said that they were here for me and that it was going to get better. I started to get a lot of hope, with all of this money someday they might find a cure. It was awesome to see so many people doing it and donating. I showed my dad and he was very happy too.
I was 16. 10th grade. My dad was getting sicker. He was already using an electric wheelchair. I raced him sometimes and it was super fun. We had hired nurse Holly to stay with my dad at my house, but my dad thought it was time for him to go live at the hospital. I didn’t want him to, but nurse Holly was getting tired of getting him up and down the stairs, and I had to go to school. He was going to live at the medical center where he could get all of the attention, and, nurse Holly was going to go too.
“I swear that I will come visit you every single day.” And I did. I promised him and I fulfilled my promise.
Didn’t matter if I was tired. Didn’t matter if I haven't slept. I went to see him.
I am 18. 12th grade. My dad died.