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Mutations

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-I believe in dancing with my dad’s best friend. I used to be extremely shy around new people. I got uncomfortable in my own skin and very self conscious. I would constantly worry about what people thought about me and how I looked. If I said something stupid or embarrassing I would scold myself for the rest of the day and think about it for another two.
The wedding music played as my father’s feet, holding all my weight, circle-stepped on the dance floor. “Hey Miss C,” he said “why don’t you go dance with Mike?” I looked up at him with confusion and embarrassment “Why?” Then in his tone that says he thinks I have asked something that shouldn’t require an answer he says “Because, Miss C, he doesn’t have a daughter to dance with and it would mean a lot to me, and him, if you would.” I glanced over and Mike watching all the father daughter couples dance from the edge of the dance floor where the tables began. He did look a little sad, but what would I do with my feet, what would I say and where would I look. It just wouldn’t be the same as with my dad. I would be on my own and clueless.
“But Daddy I don’t want to.”
“Why not? He is just like family.”
“I know but I just don’t want to.”
We continued dancing in silence, his of disappointment and mine of embarrassment. Why couldn’t I just get over that strange feeling and just dance with him? I knew it was the right thing to do, but I just could not fathom it. So, like always, I was a coward.
Then along came cancer. Cancer has played a major role in my life. My aunt has been treated for lung cancer twice, my Great Grandmother suffered from pancreatic cancer before her death, my neighbor has been diagnosed with breast cancer and my dad’s best friend since grade school lost a two year battle to small cell cancer at the age of forty two. I watch these people that I love suffer from such a horrible disease and still they laugh and go on with life. It just amazes me the kind of strength they find in such a horrible situation when all around them people are giving up much easier battles.

The case that had the most effect on me was that of Mike Hobbs, my dad’s best friend. Even though he lived in Atlanta they were like family. I never really appreciated the relationship until the cancer started to get really bad. Pauline, his wife, and the boys, Corey and Tyler, would come up when Mike was going through treatment. His radiation was so intense that he could not be around people for a week. I started to see how much the boys meant to me. Tyler, the younger of the two, brought tears to my eyes when he refused to listen to me one night at Montgomery Inn. I asked him why he listened to my dad and not me. He said it was because I was practically his sister. All I could think of was that these amazing boys were watching their hero go from healthy and fit to weighing less than one hundred pounds. They seemed to be stronger than me!
I still remember the day that my dad came home, not too long after Mike’s forty-second birthday, and looked at me and simply said “Miss C, Mike passed away, I just got off the phone.” Tears immediately filled my eyes but I tried not to let them fall because I felt like I needed to be strong for my dad, who, of course, wasn’t crying either. As soon as he left I ran to my room, laid on my bed and let the tears fall. All I kept thinking about was when I refused to dance with Mike.

This experience, along with those of the other family members, showed me that I can’t hide anymore. If I wait too long to show who I really am, do what I want to do or say what I really want to say I could miss my chance. What is the point of going through life pretending you are different? I’m loud, obnoxious and I sometimes say the wrong thing. Why should I be so hard on myself about it? I have been trying to be the person I am with my best friends around everyone. So far it has really worked. I no longer get upset with myself for saying something stupid, at least I said something. I plan to never miss out on another dance for the rest of my life.





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Lauren S. said...
Jun. 12, 2009 at 7:01 am
This was a very powerful piece, thank you for sharing it! Your honesty and emotion make it so real. Was this written for NPR's "This I Believe" ?
 
Clare H. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 15, 2009 at 9:44 pm
It was inspired by that yes, but was actually for my creative writing class last year.
 
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