"Can You Help Me, Daddy?" This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   It is hard to learn that the ideas you read about in books about childhood tragedy and psychology are really true. Events that occurred before your long-term memory was in place can still have a profound effect on your life. When you read about it in the chapter of a text, it is cool; when you hear about it in an expos", it is incredible; but when you live it in your own life, it is painful, consuming and exhausting.

When I was two and a half, my father was in a fatal car accident. He lived for three days afterwards; he was unconscious and on a respirator.

I have grown up without any memories of the man who, I'm sure, had a major impact on my life. My sister, four at the time, has a handful of recollections. She and I have never really talked about my father. I have not discussed my father, ever, with anyone who was close to him or knew him even remotely, for that matter. There are pictures around the house, and that is basically how I know him...visually...until today.

For a long time, I have been aware that there is a brown leather briefcase in my house. I know that it holds all the literature: letters, poems, memorial service programs from the time of my father's death. In the past I have rummaged briefly through the papers, but I never felt a need to read any of them. In the past several months, I have come to realize that my father's death has a great bearing on why I do certain things and how I relate in the world. So, today I happened upon the briefcase and opened it with the intention of educating myself about this man who was my father.

I got through one letter and had to stop. The letter I read was written by my mother and addressed to her dearest friends. She had written it a week after the accident. I learned some things I had not known before. I read some things in a different context than I had previously known them. The letter brought up all kinds of emotions, primarily because it describes so well the accident and the following few days at the hospital.

I don't know how to convey what this information makes me feel. I am glad for the life I have, my home, and mostly for my friends. I wish my father had not died. But if he hadn't, my family probably would never have moved from Iowa, where we were living. I would not have these friends who are the center of my life. Yet, I cannot deny wanting the things I have missed. I want to talk to my father and to tell him how I have turned out. I want to share my dreams with him. I want to ask him to help me with my math. I want to resent him for his being protective of his baby girl. I want to treat him to an ice cream cone. I want to hug him. I want to know him. I want to love him. n

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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