Why Am I Here...?

August 28, 2008
As I’m walking up these stairs, I feel like such a mess, a wreck, I have way too much going on in my head right now.
“Why am I here? It’s only been two weeks…has it been two weeks yet? No, it hasn’t…it seems like so much longer than that though…why am I here? I shouldn’t be here right now. I shouldn’t have come here today. Why didn’t I wait? Why am I here?”

Everyone has heard someone say, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” I’m here to tell you that one more time. I will never forget that day, one week and four days ago, never.

Sunday…it was a Sunday, I remember. My aunt Kathryn, her husband Eddie, her brother Truong and her two foster kids just came that day from California. I was playing basketball with my uncle Truong. After he got done smashing me, we walked home. I remember watching my mom pull out of the driveway. In the middle seat of the van I could see her…she had her arms around her stomach with her head in between her knees…I will never forget that image.

Truong and I walked inside and the first thing I hear is my uncle Eddie,
“Your mom and Kathryn are taking Trinh to the hospital.”

“What? Why? It’s just a stomach ache…it is just a stomach ache…isn’t it?” I asked him.

“She said she couldn’t breathe, don’t worry, they’ll be back in no time.” He said as he smiled at me and walked away.

An hour later mom calls home, my dad and I pick up simultaneously, but I cover up the speaker so they’re clueless to the fact that I’m listening in…I really wish I didn’t listen in…

Mom was crying as she spat out the words, “She had a heart attack.”

I hung up the phone instantaneously. This wasn’t happening this couldn’t be happening. She was only seventeen…seventeen year olds don’t get heart attacks. This is all a joke; they’ll come home any moment now.

I walked upstairs and saw my dad standing in front of Eddie. The next thing I know my dad runs past me with nothing but his keys in hand. I remember. I looked out the window and I saw that truck pull out of the driveway faster than I hope to ever see again.

It hadn’t hit me yet…I know it hadn’t, because all I did was stand there, staring out that blank window. Eddie walked over to me and I asked him, “What’s going on?”

He looked at me and slowly said, “Your sister had a heart attack…I’m going to go get some things and we’ll head over to the hospital, go get ready.”

It wasn’t a joke after all…but it still hadn’t hit me yet…I know it hadn’t. I ran into my room and grabbed the nearest pair of jeans off my floor, a white shirt and a black sweatshirt out of my closet and my mom called to tell me to bring her a coat and a pack of cigarettes for my dad.
“Dad stopped smoking though…why does he need cigarettes.” I thought to myself as I told her “Okay.”
I ran downstairs to the computer to tell her friends where she was…no one was there…I left a quick message and ran back upstairs into my mom’s closet, grabbed the red coat she told me to get and the pack of cigarettes at the bottom corner of the closet, that sure enough, were there. I ran out the door and jumped into the middle seat of the van Eddie rented for his “family vacation.”
Eddie decided that we should get food before heading up to the hospital. My sister had a heart attack, and is in the hospital, and he wants to worry about us being fed. I wasn’t in the mood to argue though; I got a salad and a red bull.
It hadn’t hit me yet…I know it hadn’t. We pulled into the second floor of the parking garage, and we ran to the third floor of the cardiovascular department. I have my mother’s red coat in my left arm, cigarettes in my left pocket and this ridiculous salad in my right arm. We made a left turn into the waiting room. I knew everyone in there, three aunts from my father’s side, one of there husbands and her three daughters, another’s son. In the middle I saw Kathryn holding my mom.
That’s the moment it all hit me. Every emotion and memory I had rushed into my head all at once. I handed my dad the cigarette carton, and dropped the coat and that stupid, stupid salad on a chair and ran out of the room into the bathroom.
As soon as I looked into that mirror, I could see my eyes begin to tear up. The only thing I could think of was whether or not she would be ok; I hated imagining the thought of if she wasn’t. I cleared my eyes and walked back into the waiting room and my mom told me to eat. I was in no position to argue. I ate half of the driest salad of my life, drank the red bull and looked up as a nurse said we could go visit her.
My mother and I jumped to our feet as the nurse escorted us into the room where Trinh was, the second we got there another nurse told us she was being moved to a different section of the hospital. I didn’t go to see her for another four hours.
I remember, it was me, my brother, and three of her friends; Jennifer, Kelli, and Pi. She looked up and smiled at all of us, and said the words,
“I had a heart attack guys…”
Everyone laughed…except me. How could they find humor at a time like this? My sister looked up at her friends and started talking about a new album one of her favorite bands had coming out. My sister is lying in a hospital bed after having a heart attack…and all she can think about is music. The nurse came in and said that we needed to go, everyone filed out of the room. I was the last one out. I remember.
When everyone left, I held her hand, I could feel the tears rolling down my cheeks, and I told her, “Everything’s gonna be okay.” She looked up at me and smiled, as I backed away, and he hand slipped away from mine.
Four hours later it’s two in the morning and I’m lying in bed on the phone with my friend Sarah, telling her everything that happened. In the middle of the conversation Eddie ran into the room and uttered three words I will by no means ever forget,
“Her heart stopped.”
I told Sarah as I hung up the phone, darted upstairs to find another pair of jeans and another white shirt. Everyone was already in the van when I jumped in.
When we got to the hospital, they took us to a “quiet room,” the first thing I saw was my dad holding my mom’s hand, my mother’s face was completely red and wet, next to her was a man I’d never seen in my life. After a couple seconds that man began to speak.

The only words I seemed to hear though were, “There is a zero percent chance she will make it to morning.”

I ran out of the room, and into room eighteen, that’s where she was. I remember. I walked by her side, the moment I saw her face, I realized nothing would ever be the same…I fell to my knees and placed both of my hands on her right, I’d never felt anything so cold in my life, and all I could do was cry…

So as I sit in this car, I hear my mom talking, “Today should have been her first day, she should be next to you right now.” I could hear her beginning to stutter, but I had nothing to say…what could I say? The car stops, and I head into the school and down the hall.
As I’m walking up these stairs, I feel like such a mess, a wreck, I have way too much going on in my head right now.
“Why am I here? It’s only been two weeks…has it been two weeks yet? No, it hasn’t…it seems like so much longer than that though…why am I here? I shouldn’t be here right now. I shouldn’t have come here today. Why didn’t I wait? Why am I here?”

Join the Discussion

This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

BillieAnn said...
Oct. 1, 2010 at 10:26 am

You are a really strong person... This made me really think bout somethings in life


emilyjoe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 24, 2010 at 9:12 pm
i just sobbed my face off. you are probably one of the strongest people i have ever heard of.
dark_angel said...
Sept. 6, 2008 at 9:39 pm
i am so sorry this made me cry just reading it i cant imagine wat it must be like for you
Site Feedback