I Will Never Forget

December 13, 2008
By Alison Henkle, Pittsboro, NC

I found myself being supported by the strong, confident shoulders of my father. I peered around my shoulder just in time to get a last glimpse of the polar bears. I felt bad for them so I looked away quickly. As my father took the first few steps into the plaza of the zoo my eyelids grew heavy so I rested my head on his head. As I slowly fell asleep he whispered the words “I love you.” Before I had time to reply, I was awake and rubbing my eyes in annoyance. Suddenly, out of almost nowhere, I heard an unearthly thud. It was a sound so horrible that it made me want to puke.

Awaking from my comforting dream, I rolled in my bed and groaned as I wiped the sleep angrily from my eyes. I was perfectly aware of what had just happened when I saw my father lying helplessly on our cold concrete floor. Somehow I managed to completely ignore the fact that my father could be dead at the moment. In fact, for some reason, the only thing I really could think was let mom deal with it. It wasn’t until about a minute after that thought had gone through my mind that I realized what a horrible person I am.

All of a sudden, before I knew what I was doing, I had leaped from the warmth and protection of my blanket
and landed on my knees at my father’s head. All I could do was stare. That was all I did until my older brother, Richard, arrived at my side. “Alison, get a pillow,” he shouted urging me to hurry. I didn’t move. “Alison, get a pillow,” he shouted again somewhat angrily this time. I did as I was commanded and rushed into my room. I returned not more than a second later with a blue pillow. Richard tore it from my hands which were shaking violently.

I returned to my position as Richard gently placed my pillow under my father’s head. We watched and listened as my mother sobbed into the phone. My eyes couldn’t leave my father. It was the only time in my life where my eyes couldn’t stray. “Richard,” I said, my voice scratchy as the sobs swelled in my throat. “Richard, he isn’t breathing.” My brother’s eyes returned to my dad. He hit his stomach attempting to make him breathe. I watched in awe. The realization that my dad might die had just struck me.

It wasn’t much later that the paramedics arrived. Richard and I hastily moved out of their way as they went to work. My brother and I sat quietly on our couch in the family room. Richard finished his homework as I sat staring into space with my knees pulled tightly to my chest.

“Do you know where you are?” I heard the paramedics ask my father as if he was five.

“Well, it’s not home… well yeah, I guess it is,” he replied.

I couldn’t think of anything except what I had thought about when I was in my bed. "Let mom deal with it." It echoed through my head as though I was in an empty cave listening to my voice. What kind of person am I?, I questioned myself in disgust. I watched as my dad was carried on a stretcher up the stairs and out our door. “Bye dad,” I said quietly to myself. “Hope to see you again…”

Later that day I visited my father in the emergency room. I don’t think I have ever been in such a depressing place. There were so many dying people fighting for their lives. It smelled of cherry medicine and the stench of urine. It is sort of expected for it to smell like urine because the patients were forced to pee in containers that the nurses emptied. My mother and I walked into the small room behind the curtain. I looked around full of worry and curiosity. Seeing nothing but wires and machines, I faced my dad.

“Hi, dad,” I said timidly.

“Hey, Ali,” he said giving me a smile which I could tell was fake.

“How are you doing?”

“Oh, I’m okay,” he replied. “I’ve been better.”

“I have no doubt,” I said chuckling.

I sat on a stool and listened as my parents talked. I looked from my mom to my dad until they ran out of subjects. At that point we all sat quietly looking at our feet. Then I broke the silence. “Dad,” I asked in a hushed voice that was crackling. “Dad, is it true that the only names you could remember were mine and Richard’s?” I had just remembered that my mother had told me that those were the only names he knew that morning. He looked up surprised that I knew.

“Yes, yes, they were.”

“I love you dad,” I said as tears began to swell in my eyes. Then we were all silent again. This time my mom broke the silence.

“Hey, Ali, are you hungry?”

“Yeah, I could eat,” I replied hesitantly glancing at my dad.

“All right, Greg, we’ll see you in a bit,” my mother said looking over at my father. As the two of us walked out from the curtain I glanced back and smiled. He gave me the same hopeful smile, and I realized how lucky I am to have him.

I looked at my mom as we walked up the winding stairs of the hospital. “Will he be okay?” I asked. My mother looked at me like she wasn’t sure but she tried to hide it.

“Yeah, Alison, of course he will be okay.”

As we ate I thought about the whole situation and about how my dad must feel and how badly Richard was handling this and how I think the worst things and then try to hide them from myself by convincing myself that I’m a good person. I had never realized how important my father is to me. And I will never forget it.

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This article has 11 comments.

maia<3 said...
on Feb. 2 2009 at 11:22 pm
i love that story. it had really good imagery. i felt like it actally happened. i felt like calling you and saying: "ali! tell me more about what happened!" i hope this does get published. loves you. :)

Dawnofglory said...
on Jan. 31 2009 at 1:26 am
This is really emotional and self-loathing... it's amazing. I'd like to read more from you.

tami-chan said...
on Jan. 31 2009 at 1:17 am
Wow, this is really amazing! Great work! Kinda sad though.

randomness=3 said...
on Jan. 30 2009 at 8:21 pm
that was a heart warming story. it was so well written and i would make no changes!

Hollow1221 said...
on Jan. 30 2009 at 12:46 am
This is one of the best articles I've ever read. Good job!

ClumsyBella said...
on Jan. 29 2009 at 9:34 pm
Alison that was amazing, it was very discriptive

on Jan. 28 2009 at 2:10 am
That was an amazing story! I especially love your descriptions, like the description of how the hospital was like.

der1996 said...
on Jan. 28 2009 at 1:45 am
that was such a great story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!i loved it i hope you wirte another one!!!!!!!!!!thats was so great!!!!!!!!!!that would be so cool if it went into a magazine it has so mush suspence it is awesome!!!

on Jan. 28 2009 at 1:32 am
that was a really great article. I'm sure you will get it published. That was really, really well written.

rosie said...
on Jan. 28 2009 at 12:23 am
alison i liked it.But why did you write it?

Mia : ) said...
on Jan. 27 2009 at 9:30 pm

Parkland Book