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Skating Paradise Lost This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Normally, after my third hour of freestyle, torpor would start to creep into my legs and I would work on spins or choreography instead of jumps or stroking. But, since this was my last time to skate on Stamford ice, today was special: I was joyously anticipating my move to Cape Cod to train for the year. There was nothing I would not sacrifice for figure skating. I had decided that my skating would benefit if I left home to train with Eve Scotvold, the legendary coach of Nancy Kerrigan and Paul Wylie. The stars of skating excellence in my eyes blinded me toward my initial fear of leaving my family.

My parents accompanied me for the first week in Cape Cod while I settled in with my host family. I started immediately with a grueling skating schedule: my day entailed four hours of freestyle, two hours of figures, two hours of ballet, and one hour of weight training – just the type of rigorous training that I had hoped for. The whole experience was sublime: not only was I in skating paradise, but my parents were there with me.

The last day my parents were with me, my father dropped me off at the rink at 6:45 a.m. I was so eager to get on the ice that I neglected to kiss him good-bye. Instead, I grabbed my lunch and ran inside the rink. I did not know at that time how precious even a few seconds with my father were.

In the middle of the 11:00 a.m. freestyle I locked eyes with my brother. He was standing off the ice, by the snack bar. Bemused, I rushed to the boards to find out why he was there. When I noticed my mother and ten-year-old brother close behind him, I began to worry that something was wrong. I couldn’t help but shudder at the sight of my mother’s watery eyes as she put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Joe, I have something to tell you. Daddy’s dead.”

The next few days are a blur. I felt as if I were experiencing a nightmare from which I was powerless to escape. The world continued on its ruthless path before my glazed stare. I left Cape Cod with my family, weeping throughout the three-hour trip home. My heart was torn by my father’s sudden death and the abrupt end it brought to my stay in skating paradise. Like a child, I tried to ignore the situation in the hope that it would go away. His death was extremely hard to accept: I left the wake early and was the only member of my family not to speak at the funeral.

Over the weekend, I had to decide whether I would stay home or return to Cape Cod. I found comfort in the knowledge that my father would have supported me in any decision I felt was right. My skating aspirations, however, left me little choice. Dad died on Thursday; I was back in Cape Cod by the following Tuesday.

When I returned, I was apprehensive about my new living situation, school system, and skating coach. I had courage, however, for I was sure of my father’s blessing as I entered this brave new world. I would often think of him as I tried to fathom the incredible strength needed to deal with his death away from home.

In memory of Ned Mario Di Pasquale (1942-1994)

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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