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Here and Gone
People watch life go right pass them and they don’t take a hold of the meaning of life until it is too late. I am one of those people, and looking back on it, it truly sucks. I have always seen myself more grown up then others. I never really felt like I connected with children my age. I never wanted to do what kids were doing; I wanted to be with the adults all the time. And even though I was with my parents, all the time, I do not feel like I truly connected with them. I have always been off trying to do something different then everyone else around me. I am now sixteen and had a lot of experiences as just a child and teenager, and I know there is still a long journey the rest of the way.
I am Charles (CJ). I have two other siblings in my family as well, my older brother, Dennis, and my younger brother, Etheridge. My older brother is 25 and married, while my younger brother is only a year younger than me so he is 15. They have always been here for me as well. They have helped me get passed a lot of tuff times throughout the past couple of years. My parents are the kindest people in the world and will help you no matter what you ask, if they can help you they will. I’ve had a lot of good times with my parents that I will never forget about. My parents gave us kids everything that they could and us, just being kids, we took it for granted. Our toys, our games, our parents. I’ve never imagined that I could lose my parents. I never had a thought in my mind that something could happen to my parents. My parents would fight and I would be scared of them divorcing, but I was never scared of literally losing one of them.
My parents have always been here for me. They have always helped me throughout the years. Some kids don’t talk to their parents as an advice source, that’s what parents are pretty much for right? People don’t realize that until they have no one to talk to and then it is too late. I wish I could talk to my father one last time, but I lost my chance in 2009. I would never really talk to my parents until the accident happened. In March 2007 we (not including my brother and his wife) were in Pine, Arizona visiting my Grandparents for Easter. Pine is a big place in the middle of the woods where the nearest town was at least 20 minutes away. There was a large amount of my family there as well. Most of my cousins (including all their children) were there and my aunt was there as well. It was a day or two after my Dads birthday (which is why everyone was there) and everyone except my grandparents, my aunt, and all the children went to look for a picnic spot. My Dad and cousin went on the ATVs and I don’t know the full story, but my Dad was doing something to where he was not paying attention and he drove off a cliff. I was in my grandparents yard doing some work for them.
My younger brother came out of the house and in a panic said “Dad fell off of a cliff!” We would always mess around with each other and for some reason or another I thought it was a joke.
I did not truly understand the seriousness in his voice and said “Ha-Ha you’re so funny don’t joke about that.”
He yelled at me, “I’m not kidding, Dad fell of a cliff!” For one reason or another I still did not believe him until everyone else started freaking out. That’s when I really got scared. I watched my family come home without my Dad and did not say a word; they switched cars, jumped in the truck and took off to find him. I remember sitting in my grandparents’ yard by myself just crying. For all I knew my Dad had died and I had no clue what was happing or what is going to happen.
I remember calling my best friend, Kenny, before I even called my older brother. I honestly believe that he was like my brother because he literally lived at my house for like 3 months and went home only to shower and get new clothes and that was it (He lives down the street from me).
I remember calling him, crying saying “Kenny, my Dad, I don’t know what’s going on, but my Dad just fell off a mountain ridin’ an ATV and I don’t know if he is dead or what.” He didn’t have much to say, but what can I say? What could you say to someone in that position?
He told me, “Everything will be ok.”
I then told him, “I was going to call my older brother and I will call him back to let him know what’s going on.”
I then hung up the phone and called my older brother. He would not answer his phone and I kept calling him.
I then figured he was at work and was busy so I just texted him, “Dad fell off a cliff call me”. He immediately called me and I told him what happened. I told him “Dad fell off a cliff and I don’t know what to do or if he is ok and I’m scared”.
“Dad will be ok,” He told me, “if you do not know what happened then do not be so scared because you never know”. I do not remember any of the rest of the conversation after that.
I remember jumping my grandparents’ fence and I started walking towards where I assumed my Dad was.
One of my cousins came chasing after me to come with me but then my Grandma saw him and yelled out the window, “What are you doing?”
“I am following CJ” he yelled back to her.
“Both of you,” she said, “get back in this yard right now”. I was fighting myself wondering if I should keep walking and ignore her, or should I come back. And I know that may sound bad disrespecting my Grandma, but I wanted to find my Dad no matter what. I was so confused, I wanted to find my father, but I didn’t want to disrespect her at the same time. My head was spinning, I was dizzy, and still in shock of the news about my father. I listened to her and came back in the yard.
She walked up to me and told me “Your Mom had called me to tell everyone what is going on. Your Dad, he had broken his neck and they called 911 and they are sending in a helicopter to get him.”
My heart dropped, I could not believe what my Grandmother had just told me. How could this happen, this was supposed to be a good weekend, this was supposed to be happy times. That weekend was anything but happy. There is a saying I heard before “you always hear about this stuff happening to other people but it never happens to you.” I can’t remember where I heard that saying from.
He had to be air lifted out of the woods to go to Phoenix. The paramedics told my mom what hospital he was going to and from my grandparents house my cousins drove us all the way to Phoenix (which is a two hour drive).
We get to the hospital and it turns out the paramedics told my Mom the wrong hospital and so now my Mom is freaking out at this point because we cannot find what hospital my Dad was sent to. My Mom starts actually calling all the hospitals until she finds the right one. My mom found the right one (with little to no help from the hospital we were sent to) and called our family members in Phoenix to find directions to the correct hospital. We get to the hospital and I heard the full story about what had happened.
My mom had told me, “Dad has had other ATV accidents and one of them had ran him over before, so he got scared and thought it would be safer to jump. He did, but when he did he hit his head on a tree on the way down and broke his neck.” I was crying after she told me that. My world had gone down the drains I thought I was going to lose my Dad. I didn’t even want to be there I wanted it all to be fake and I wanted to wake up from this nightmare but it never happened because this thing we call a life is a nightmare sometimes.
It was horrible having to watch everything right in front of my eyes and not being able to do a thing about it. My Mom is crying, my brother upset, my cousins upset, and me….emotionally numb. I have never felt the way I did that night; there are no words to explain how someone could possibly feel in that position we were all in. My Dad had to go straight into surgery and I had very little time to talk to him. There was a waiting room in the hospital and we sat there for over nine hours waiting for the news about my father.
There were a lot of family members that came to wait with us; the room was packed with just my family members alone. We were all so scared for the news from the surgery, none of us knew if he would make it or not.
I didn’t know if I should go to sleep or wait for the surgery to be over. I ended up going to sleep being scared of losing my dad. My dad thankfully lived through the surgery. He had to be on some medication that made him sleep. My dad, being the stubborn guy he is, was actually fighting all the medications they were giving him and so they had to double dose him.
My Dad is crazy; “I do not want to get help I want to see my family.” That’s what he told all of us when he woke up every now and then. They would take him off the sleep meds to see if he could move anything. It was hard watching my family stand around my father and none of us could do anything and we were all crying and upset. They would have to test to see if my Dad could move at all. They would grab his hand and tell him to squeeze. I do not know if he was all drugged up and that’s why he could not squeeze their hand (or at least that’s what I believed). But now I know it was actually cause’ he had broken his neck. They would have to pinch my dad until he would move his arm to tell him to stop. It was truly sad having them have to do that just to help him. But the good side was that they were helping.
I had a lot of family that lived in phoenix that came to see my Dad. He had a brother, his cousins, and his mom that lived in phoenix at the time. They all came to see him while he was in the hospital, and that just showed how much everyone cared about him. We were at the hospital and that’s the first time I have seen my grandmother in a couple of years. I wish that was not the circumstances but they were. I remember her crying, I remember everyone crying. I think that was one of the hardest things was having to watch everyone cry.
My dad finally came home after being in several hospitals for six months. We had to totally rebuild my house to fit to my Dads needs as a quadriplegic. Our whole family had helped in the rebuilding of our house and helped us with our groceries as well. My mom did not work the whole time my Dad was in the hospital because she was constantly near his side. He was with us for two more years after his accident which I am very grateful for. The doctors said he was only living on the will of being here for his family. I know my Dad really loved us all but we all knew that he had to let go and move on. I love my Dad so much and so does the rest of my family.
I did not write this paper for people to feel sorry for me. The reason I wrote this was so people could connect and see that other people can relate and they are not alone. This paper is for hope and a reason for living. I am sure that there are people who have gone through 10x’s worse then what I went through. I have become who I am because of what has happened throughout my life time. I am proud of whom I am and I would not change it. I am the decedents of my parents and I am proud of that. I love my family and would not change them no matter what. I am who I am for a reason.