Catching Death

December 6, 2011
By Amaris BRONZE, Magna, Utah
Amaris BRONZE, Magna, Utah
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Sitting in the waiting area, I listen to my cousin as he explains the type of leukemia Aubrey is fighting. He doesn’t show any signs of worry on his face as he informs my family of the situation, but I can see the worry in his eyes and hear it in his occasional sighs. A few minutes later we’re allowed to see Aubrey. I have to wash my hands before I can enter the special unit, then I’m given a mask to wear before entering the room. Hesitantly, I knock on the hospital door before going inside. At first, I’m overwhelmed by the machinery and constant beeping; the room is too small for the amount of people crowded inside. I mutter a greeting to those inside the room, and then make a clear path to the yellow crib. I look down into the crib, which has wires sprouting from above it and from beneath, to see that Aubrey has lost her auburn hair. Her eyes flare emerald green as she stretches her hand up to greet me. I let her tiny hand wrap around my finger; I notice her grip is weak, and wonder if the treatment is exerting too much energy. She’s too young to say, all she can do is wail and fuss. She’s too young to know of the dangerous threat that looms over her. Suddenly, I recall my first encounter with death and the mark it left on me.
It was the year of the ABC’s, 123’s, and name scribbling. Spring had blossomed across my apartment complex making a colorful scene. The centered lake was home to the aquatic residents of the apartment complex, where I would often take short walks and feed the ducks. This day, however; I remained inside my porch. I looked out through the holes of the wooden porch to see a family of ducks wobbling by on the other side. The porch was taller in height than I was, but reached about four inches off the ground, which is why the little duckling managed to find its way into my porch. It had lost its way from its family and stumbled into my life. I was elated with the discovery as I gathered it up in my hands.
I ran. My aunt was the first one to come across my path. So I told her of the news.
“Look, it crawled in through the small opening beneath the porch! I’m going to ask Mami if I can keep it.” I said to her enthusiastically.
She looked down at the duck and suggested the impossible. “Que lindo! But, don’t you think it should be with its own mami?”
            We discussed the options as we walked back to the lake, and while I truly hated the idea of releasing my duck, the decision had been made. I searched for the yellow momma duck, but swimming in the lake I only saw a family of brown ducks. My aunt patted my shoulder as I leaned down.
I remember distinctly the suddenness in which the tiny iridescent yellow duckling sprinted across the crenellated lake. I half consciously realized the dread that floated in my mind. But the joyous disposition of the little creature as it journeyed to the new adoptive momma duck I had found, confirmed that perhaps I had made the correct decision. During the following days, I would agonize over and search for the moment in which life for the duckling took a new path in its journey towards death. Maybe fate lurked from the moment of its separation from its mother, or perhaps destiny kicked in during that fleeting moment of hesitation before I somberly released my tiny captive.
The confrontation lasted briefly like a wave farewell.  The mama duck struck the yellow duckling with precision, connecting blows to the side and neck area. Bewilderedly, slowly, the duckling swam back to me. I clung to hope when I once again held it in my hands, but the cruel truth showed in its frame. It didn’t take long for it to pass away in my hands. The scene echoed a shattering trail of realization in my mind. I had, although unintentionally, played a role in that death. It seemed only a few hours ago I had celebrated the duckling’s arrival into my life, now I mourned its death.

Each happy memory; the discovery, the hopeful future I had planned for it, the unconditional love I had flushed over it from the start, they were all shadowed by a new overwhelming emotion. Waves of sorrow consumed me as I began the process of its burial. I managed to find a shoe box, and placed the dead duck in the center. Staring down at the stark face and wilted little wing which had been injured during the confrontation, and the mortal wound which had been to the neck, I regretted not having been given the time to name the duck. My small hands clutched the coffin; I walked on heavy feet as guilt weighed down on me. I decided its final resting place would be located in the wooded trail just a few steps from my apartment and from the lake. Placing the coffin down on the ground between two trees, I said my silent farewell as the yellow light of the setting sun settled on the tiny box. That fateful day, I learned a secret of my own mortality, and of the hurtful pain death can cause.
Aubrey tugs on my finger, drawing my attention. I smile down at her. I listen into the conversation between Aubrey’s mom and the other guests as she informs them of Aubrey’s progress. I learn that she’s gone through a couple of screenings over the few last weeks; the signs show Aubrey is defeating her leukemia. Although, she’s only begun her fight against cancer, and no one can say which path her life will take, I can already see the resilience in her disposition to defeat it, i can already see that Aubrey won’t let death death catch her, the light in her eyes will burn on.

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