Bargaining with God This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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When I think of my family I consider it “normal” – two working parents, a daughter, son, and even a white picket fence. Our family life has always been stable and secure and dependable – until one January day.

It was a Sunday morning and I was getting ready to go babysit. My door was shut, but I could hear my mom running up the stairs, screaming my name. I thought Dad must be playfully chasing her, as he often does. I opened the door to watch the fun, but quickly realized nothing fun was going on. It might have been the tears in my mother’s eyes or her terrified look, but I knew something was really wrong. I don’t remember exactly what happened next, but soon I was downstairs with my entire family, each with our own tears and terrified looks. My father was in the basement, seated in a chair, his limp body being held up by my brother. He could hardly talk; only murmurs came from his mouth. His eyes were squinted and he was breathing heavily.

My mom sent me to “wait for the ambulance” outside. I wasn’t in any state to argue. In the two or three minutes it took for the medics to get there, my whole life changed. What was going on? What would I do without a father? Why him? Why me? Why hadn’t I told him I loved him more often? I could hear the sirens. They sounded light years away. When help finally arrived, I ran and begged them to hurry. I honestly thought my father was dying – without me. The medics quickly went to my father and, after a quick examination, put him in the ambulance and rushed him to the hospital.

We followed the ambulance and met it at the hospital. There, the hours dragged like years. Finally the doctor came and told us what had happened. His medical jargon meant nothing to me, however, I did catch the word “stroke” here and there. My father, MY father, had a stroke? How could this be happening to a “normal” family?

My dad stayed at the hospital for two days. Both nights I bargained with God. I knew that if there was ever a time when I needed His help, this was it. I swore that if He spared my father, I would never ask for anything again. I vowed never to take my father for granted again. I promised away everything I had so that I could have my father back. I was desperate to make my crumbling world normal again. I just hoped God was listening.

On the third day, the doctor met us as we were coming in. He said he had to talk to us. This is it, I thought. Now is the time I find out if I still have a father. He sat us down and started to talk. I did all I could do to concentrate on his words, and finally I heard “fully recover.” That was all I needed to hear. I burst into tears – at last – happy tears. My prayers had been answered, and I had a father.

Since then, I have realized that nothing is always stable, secure and dependable. Nothing is ever certain. Now, when my parents tell me when I’m doing something wrong, I listen as to how to fix it. Some day that advice won’t be there.

When the family sits down to dinner these days, it is a time to catch up and value each other’s company. It isn’t just time to fill our stomachs, but a time to fill our heads and hearts with memories to last forever. I have come to believe firmly that you don’t realize what you have until it is almost taken away. Live for today, because tomorrow is not always an option.

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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