When the Cape Came Off

January 27, 2010
“Are you ready to see you daddy, honey?” the doctor bent down to ask me. He smiled kindly at me and the wrinkles around his eyes seemed to grow. His breath was a combination of tuna fish and bubble gum. I stared blankly into his face. Of course I was ready to see daddy, why ask a question you already know the answer to?

“Of course we are,” mom answered for me. She knew that I was easily annoyed and quick with my mouth.

“Is daddy okay?”Jessica squealed. The doctor stared at her freckled face, rounded lips, and bright blue eyes, filled with hope. Looking at her, you could almost see how unaware she was about the extent of dad’s condition. He looked up at mom, begging for help.

“Let’s go!” mom exclaimed. She could sense that the doctor wouldn’t lie to Jessica by explaining how close dad had come to death, but she also knew that to crush Jessica’s ignorant bliss about how healthy daddy was, would hurt the doctor forever.

We all fallowed the man who was treating my father through a pair of automatic sliding doors and the horror began. There people everywhere I looked. Sick people. Helpless People. Weak People. Dying people. Daddy wasn’t that bad. He shouldn’t be here. It was apparent that a quarter of these people would lose their lives tonight. Jessica didn’t know this. She thought that they would all be fine. I envied her. She had no idea of the horrors of this hallway. I closed my eyes and placed my palms on Jessica’s shoulders and she lead me to daddy.

When I opened my eyes, daddy was there. His hair was messy and his face unshaven. Daddy is the strongest, smartest, toughest person in the world, or so I thought. How is this man daddy? He was sick. He was helpless. He was weak. Was he dying as well?

My mind races back to when I am 3 years old. It’s thundering tonight and the wind sounds of vociferous screams. “Help me daddy,” I shriek as I race into his bedroom, my pink blanket trailing behind me. I waddle over to his arm which I can barely make out through the darkness flopped over the edge of the bed. I tug on it, and wait for daddy to wake up.
“Zoe?” he mumbles.
“Daddy!” I squeal. “Help me!”
“Zoe, my dear,” He sighs, as he sits up in bed. He looks down at me, clutching my blanket as though it could somehow save me. He grabs me from under my shoulders and pulls me up onto his lap. “What’s wrong?”
“The booms,” I cry into his flannel pajama shirt.
“The thunder does sound very scary, Zoe, but it can’t hurt you,” He murmurs.
“Yes it can, daddy,” I tell him.
“Zoe I promise it won’t hurt you. I wouldn’t let it hurt you because I’ll protect you. I wouldn’t let anything hurt you. I’ll always be there for you, Zoe, always.”
Always. Those words rang out in my head. I wanted to go back and ask him, what about now? What about now that I am 10? What about now that you can hardly walk? How can you protect me now? All those promises, all those lies you told me, why? Out of love? You didn’t want your daughter to know that she would have to fend off the terrors of everyday life alone. Well now dad, I am nearly alone, with you so close to death it lingers in the shadows. I sit alone in the darkness, searching helplessly for a guiding light, a light that you have always provided me with, and promised would never fade nor get dim. But now, you have turned it off completely. It is gone. And I am alone in the cold, never-ending darkness.

Dad is not dead yet, although I feel as though his spirit is, and I am not sure if it will ever come back. “Zoe, Jessica, Mommy?” he whispers as though he is asking a question. I can tell he is struggling to catch each breath. “You’re here.” Jessica runs to his bedside and stares at him with her huge blue eyes. She observes how he looks, how he talks, his hospital room. Mom walks over to the chair and sat down wearily.
“So I just got off the phone with your mother,” mom tells dad, and they smile weakly at each other, knowingly. This is mom’s effort to prove to herself that everything will go back to normal after we get out of this hospital. If she can still have a normal conversation with dad, then things must not be that terrible I just stand there. I’m beginning to think that things are that terrible.

This isn’t Daddy. What’s he doing here? Daddy can’t be here. Daddy is invincible. Daddy told me himself that he would always be there to save me. Daddy is my superman. Why is he here? This is wrong. It’s wrong that daddy is here. Does daddy belong here? Look at him! He does. But he doesn’t. But he’s is superman.

But he’s not.
Suddenly I realized that daddy wasn’t superman. That daddy wasn’t unassailable. He was a man in his late forties, somewhat overweight, with graying hair that loved me unconditionally, and would do anything for me. But that’s all he was. And yet I was okay with that. I was okay that he couldn’t always protect me. I was okay that he wouldn’t always be there. I was okay that one day I would have to live my life, independently, without his shelter or guiding hand. As much as that thought frightened me, it was inevitably going to happen.

I glanced back at dad. Now? Would he set me free now? Would he leave me to a life of independence, now? He smiles sweetly at me and motions for me to come forward. No he won’t leave me now. He knows I’m not prepared to live life without him. I am still too much of a child. When I am ready to be independent and he is confident that I can sustain life without his guidance maybe then. But not now. I need him too much now.

Dad, don’t turn off your guiding light now. For if you do, I will be blind.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Baninabean This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 18, 2010 at 10:29 pm
this is such a beautiful, keep writing!
beautifulgirl1 said...
Feb. 20, 2010 at 1:38 pm
what a great peice! this is truely an amazing story. This deserves an award. just Fantastic!
FallenAngel2358 said...
Feb. 4, 2010 at 3:49 pm
You are amazing as a writer. You really made me cry with your moving words. I had to go through the same thing with my brother when I was only twelve after his heart surgery. So moving. Keep it up. :')
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