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Hold On Forever
It would’ve been any other day but it wasn’t. January 1st 2010, New Years day. Every year it would a celebration, but this year it’s anything but. Most people can count down the days until the New Year starts, I was dreading the day.
I woke up that morning at 8 am, I didn’t want to miss any moment I would later regret not having. I lay in bed for a few moments thinking of how everything was about to change a lot. I had spent my prior days pretending this wouldn’t really happen, but reality eventually caught up with me and I had to face what was about to come. I got out bed and put on my Kaki Capri’s and pink juicy jacket. I hated each item of clothing I was wearing but I knew that it looked nice on and I needed to look nice that day. That is when my dad walked my door.
“You ready to go bud?” He asked me.
“As ready as I can be.” I answered.
I quickly through on some make-up and put my hair into a messy bun. I looked into the mirror and closed my eyes, took a deep breath and turned to walk out the door. I walked into the front room and I saw the looks on the rest of my family’s faces. I was the only one with a sad face on. I thought they had forgotten what today held. I was almost angry that they could pretend that I was about to lose one of the most important things in my life. I tried to ignore the fact that they weren’t as upset as me and we walked out to the door off to brunch.
We arrived at my father’s favorite restaurant ‘Luenigs Bistro’ and we were seated immediately. My father always had a way to talk people and he always seemed to get what he wanted, when I would listen to him talk to people it was almost like he knew them but he didn’t. I guess he was just really friendly but he had the amazing ability to make friends in an instant, and get a long with anyone.
Once we had ordered our drinks and food my uncle walked in. I was angry and confused at the same time. What was he doing here? I thought it was supposed to be just us and my father. All questions I wanted to be answered, but I held my tongue and didn’t say anything. He ended up joining us for brunch. I knew we had to leave before 12, and as 11 o’clock rolled closer we got ready to leave.
We went home and I ran into my room. I didn’t want this to happen. I tore of the close I was wearing with anger and tears running down my face, I put on my pajamas and curled into a ball on the floor. My stomach hurt terribly I couldn’t tell if it was from the food or from being so upset. It was probably a mix of both. I got up remembering I didn’t want to waste a second of my time. I wiped the tears off my face and fanned my eyes with my hands, the redness fading. I walked into the kitchen casually. My father shuffled past me with his large red duffle bag and other bags. I took a deep breath. I went back into my room and looked in the mirror giving myself a pep talk. Stay strong, be strong for everyone else, you know he wont want you weak and crying so toughen up and don't cry. I nodded my head right as my mom called for me to go out there.
As I neared my mom and sisters I saw my mom had already begun crying, my middle sister Alyssa was dropping a few tears, and my oldest sister Audrey was a wreck. I remember seeing her eyes all red and puffy and tears just pouring out. I took a deep breath swallowing my tears but I knew I would eventually crack. My father hugged Alyssa goodbye first making her cry harder they exchanged a few last words in-between individual sobs. He then hugged my mom even though she was still taking him to the airport. Next he hugged Audrey who crumbled into his arms and just stayed there for a while. When she was crying that hard was when my first tear fell. I wiped it away before it could even think about hitting my cheek.
I tried to breathe because I found myself holding my breath. It came to be my turn, I looked into his light green eyes, the white part of his eye had turned to a light red and he had tears in both. I had never seen my father cry before, seeing that all the talk about being strong fell to the floor along with several tears. I leaped off the arm of the chair I was sitting on and I wrapped my arms around his waits and buried my face in his chest. His arms wrapped around my back and one hand on the back of my head and neck pulling me tight to him. I remember this so well, the smell of his cologne and the softness of his grey sweatshirt. I also remember not wanting to let go, wanting to hold on and never ever leave. I knew I had to though, I had to let him go half way around the world where I wasn’t going to see him for a year. He pulled away from the hug putting both of his hands on my cheeks he wiped away the tears with his thumbs and he told me to be strong, stay safe, and more.
This was the last time I talked to my father in person. January 1st, 2010. You would’ve thought it would’ve been like any other day, but it most defiantly wasn’t. It was the day my father left me and my family to serve our country in Afghanistan, the day he chose to fight for freedom.
I will always remember the last words we shared, and until he comes home I will think of this conversation and that long hug and remember that is why I am keeping hope.
“Stay strong, be safe, and help mom out okay? I love you baby girl.” He said to me.
“I love you too Daddy.”