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Sundays with Dad This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Sundays still make me smile. On that day each week, I got to know my dad better. We never had profound philosophical conversations about life; we were just a girl and her dad passing a lazy Sunday together in each other's company. But over time, I learned more by observing his life rather than by talking to him about it.

On one ordinary sunny day, I received a life-altering phone call from my stepmother. A heartbeat later, I was in the intensive care unit. I saw my dad's limp body and fell into a state of shock. I could not understand that the man who was supposed to protect and care for me was suddenly so fragile. As I held his hand, we resolved that we would fight this cancer together.

When we went to his chemotherapy treatments, his spirit and enthusiasm inspired me to believe that he could overcome this. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, he lifted the spirits of other patients with gifts of cookies and witty jokes. His simple acts of kindness and optimism during this time encouraged me to believe in his fight.

"I'm going to see you graduate, Brittany. I'm going to beat this so I can watch you cross that stage," he would say. He believed in his ability to overcome anything, even cancer. But to my dismay, I watched him lose weight and lose his hair. Though his appearance changed, I still saw my dad the same as he was before. His deteriorating body was not the man I knew. For the first time in my life I was able to look past the physical to see the spirit within. When we went out, people would stare and whisper, but I did not see what they did. I only saw an amazing human being with qualities I hoped to imitate.

Soon, though, he became too weak for even simple errands. He was unable to perform the easiest of tasks, like wearing his shirts the correct way since his mind could no longer discern the front from the back. Every thing I took for granted became a challenge for him.

His life was ending while mine was just beginning. I took a second look at my life and began changing my naive ways in light of his struggle. Small parts of life suddenly became significant. His daily battles made me realize that life is a gift I should not take for granted. He inspired me to celebrate each moment. Soon our Sunday talks became shorter as he grew too weak to talk.

As I rested by his side that last time, no words could escape my mouth. No words, no sentences, no condolences seemed worthy to speak to this man who taught me to embrace life. Life now had a new importance for me while I watched his diminish. As I hugged him that last time, the only words I could muster were "I love you, Dad."

Although my dad is no longer here on Sundays, his inspirational spirit remains with me every day.

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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