Finding the Sun Again

January 25, 2012
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I knew if I turned my head I would lose it, so I kept my eyes focused on everything outside the window, trying to concentrate on every little detail of the external world. Unfortunately, the setting was as gloomy and as shivering cold, as the inside of the room. From the ledge I sat on, I saw the roofing of a lower layer of the hospital’s endless corridors. Moments of taking in the misery of the environment depressed me; responding to the miserable scenery, I turned my head. My deteriorating father lay limp in his bed, covered by a stiff teal sheet, and surrounded by my immediate family. He asked me, “How was school today, Kate?” as if we were sitting comfortably in our living room. I covered my eyes this time not because of the upsetting image of him, but because of the thought of school reminded me how no one, not even the ones I thought were friends, understood the whirlwind my life had turned into. They also didn’t know how it would alter me for the long run.

My mother, brother, sister, and I, sat in silence on the car ride home. My voice shook slightly, and weakly, as if I were the one with the brain aneurism in the hospital. “Mom, we are not going to Disney world in two weeks are we?” Of course we were not, but it was uncomfortable having it floating through the stagnant air in that tan SUV, which at the moment smelled like the McDonald’s french fries that now occupied our diet. In the words I said I asked if we would be going during the upcoming weeks like we planned for so long, but behind those words, my mother and I both understood the real question was if we would ever do the things we had done so joyfully as a family in the past, ever again.

The man who gave my family and me such beautiful, adventurous lives had been locked away behind sterile hospital doors, which kept most beauty and adventure out for over two months. Our home lives consisted of getting by, and getting by alone. The house always felt empty. The vacant feeling can only be described as the emptiness any human would suffer looking at the gray vast ocean. My brother coped by waiting for my father’s phone calls. My sister coped by listening to music. I spent every moment taking care of my father’s former family responsibilities, and my mother spent every moment fighting to get my dad home. One day she won her fight; he was well enough to voyage back home.

My dad was diagnosed with a brain aneurism which would never go away, and all of us had to learn to live with it. He came home just in time for Christmas, and by April we were on our way to our Disney trip; as a family we thought we might never get a chance to do again. We packed our bags and consulted doctors to make sure my father’s medical condition would be safe to travel. We learned not to believe everything doctors, or frankly anybody, said that autumn—the autumn that stretched our family, but didn’t tear it. We held our breath as the aluminum plane took off into the endless sky and didn’t breathe again until we saw my dad breathing at our destination in Florida.

Seeing my father so sick, my mother working so hard, and my friends abandoning me in my time of darkness made me stronger. I accept that many people close to my heart may never understand why I would give anything to spend time with my family, and I hope they never have to endure what my family did to learn that. The experience that changed me forever, was not in a hospital, or in my home; it was walking down the middle of Walt Disney World towards the hopeful castle, with my entire family holding hands with one another. It projected from my eyes directly to my soul how important family is, and how often humanity forgets what is really important. That moment taught me remember: nothing is guaranteed, and if you get the chance to harvest joy, spread joy, or plant its seeds, never hold back because it is our rightful duty as people to make the lives of others, as well as our own, joyful and bright. “Be kind, for we are all fighting bigger battles.”

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KatieLC said...
Feb. 7, 2012 at 5:30 pm
Tell me what you think!
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