Mixed Emotions This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 6, 2013
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Waking up one morning. A headache. Neck pain.

Next thing I knew, I was in the hospital, sick with a disease whose name was too long for me to pronounce. Cow. The name had cow in it. The doctor had repeatedly muttered the word ‘Kawasakis’ in his hushed conversations with my parents. The word felt strange and alien to me.

Every day brought more flowers, medicine, and blood pressure machines. For some reason, I really hated getting my blood pressure taken. I would scream and kick every time they brought the weird contraption into my room. It took a few nurses to hold me down. Even now, getting my blood pressure taken makes me nervous. I am always subconsciously afraid of bad news.

Watching cartoons in the sterile white hospital room, my parents and grandparents walked in, looking down at me with concern. Behind that concern was overwhelming joy and delight. I could see it. I felt it, too. My mom smiled.

“How are you feeling?” she asked. Even at the young age of three, my family was starting to rankle me with that question. I shrugged. My mom walked to the stiff wooden chair next to my bed, and I thought she was going to sit with me, but instead she picked up her purse and keys.

“It’s time for your father and me to leave,” she continued, “we’ll be back in a few hours, alright?” My parents took turns hugging me goodbye; my dad tracing a little cross on my forehead with his thumb as he had done every night that I could remember. I reluctantly let them go, and watched as they left my room.

Alone in my hospital room with my grandparents, we talked about our excitement. However, that wasn’t my only emotion at the time. As a toddler, I had this nasty habit of constantly feeling badly for myself. As I lay in the bed, I began to think of just what my parents were doing. I was upset that they had left me. I felt like I was being shoved into the backseat as they hastily made room for what was soon to gather all of their attention. At three, I had not yet attained the rationality to think about anyone other than myself, so I moped for a while. Even though I was trying to look sad and have everyone else join in my self-pity, it felt as though anticipation and joy were tugging at the corners of my lips the whole time. Finally, I broke out into a smile. I couldn’t help it.

A few hours later, my parents returned. They were beaming with a new light I had never seen before. A happy light, yes, but still, it was all so new to me. They had been crying. I could tell.

For days, all I could think of was home. I thought of the white and green tiled floor in the kitchen, the purple, yellow, and blue flowers on the pink wall in my room, and the dark wood and leather of the living room. I remembered sitting on the worn leather couch, which I had sneakily scratched with my nail until I could see the mark it left. After all, how else would future generations know I had been there? I remembered doing this one day a while back as my mom walked in. My dad was sitting next to me, and my five year old sister was on the floor, mesmerized by the Nick Junior show that was lighting up our TV.

“Alright,” my mom had said, switching off the TV. “We have to pick a name!” for weeks after, we had debated the perfect name. My mom fought hard for Sunny. The rest of us didn’t like that. Then, finally, my mom came up with Emma. That one we all liked, and it was decided.

At last, the doctors told me I could go home. I couldn’t immediately continue my full, riveting three year old life, but still, it was home.

As I pulled up to the familiar red door of my pleasant neighborhood home, I was shaking in my car seat. The child safety lock clicked off. Thinking of what was waiting inside for me, the car door couldn’t slide open fast enough. I barged right through that bright ruby door. I should have been so happy to be home; I should have just looked around and greeted the feeling of home, as any other hospital-ridden kid would have done after three weeks, but there was something else that required my full attention. I raced to the dark living room, a striking contrast to the sunny foyer. My mom was sitting on the couch. I passed my toys; my fairy wings, princess gowns, Barbie dolls, and stuffed animals, thrown and neglected on the floor. I didn’t even look at them. Even after three weeks. I sat on the couch next to my mom. She put her finger to her lips, signaling me to be quiet. I looked down in her arms. Lying there, a picture of pure serenity, imported straight from Korea, was my new, little baby sister.

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