I Was Six This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

I climb down off my bed. Ellie, my pink elephant, lies sprawled out on the floor. She must have gotten knocked off during the night. After tucking her back under my covers, I head for the hallway. It’s really quiet. My stepmom is still in bed. She won’t be up for at least a few more hours. I’m not surprised to find my dad sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper. He has already been down to work and came back up for a glass of orange juice. His dark hair is sticking up in some places. He doesn’t seem to care.

“Well, good morning,” my dad says as he lifts me onto his lap. I wrap my arms tightly around his neck.

“Good morning,” I say. His scruffy chin grazes my forehead.

“So, what’s for breakfast?”

“Scrambled eggs, of course,” I answer. Ever since my mom taught me, I cook them for him every morning I’m at his house. It makes me feel grown-up.


My dad has cancer. I don’t understand what this means, but the tears in my mom’s eyes let me know it’s not good. She explains that he’s very sick and will have to go through a lot to get better, so we need to help him as much as we can. I was six.


My dad flings a branch into the cool, crisp water of Lake Dillon. It is enormous but hidden in a vast hole, surrounded by towering pine trees. Chester leaps into the water, swimming as fast as he can through the tumbling waves. He clamps onto the stick and paddles back to shore. He is a golden brown Chesapeake retriever who loves the water. My dad has had him since before I was born.

“Your turn,” Dad says. I take the branch out of Chester’s drooling mouth and throw it as far as I can. It goes a good three feet.


The cancer is in his lymph nodes. They take it out, but it does no good. A malignant tumor develops in his brain. He has surgery to remove it. I visit him after the operation and am startled by the scar that takes up the right side of his head.

“It looks just like a horseshoe, don’t you think?” he smiles. I do my best to smile back. I was six.


I jump up and grab the shiny metal bar of the trapeze that hangs from my living room ceiling. Our apartment is above the hardware store where my dad works. He owns the store with my grandpa and loves it. He’s constantly working, but always finds time to spend with me. The trapeze was his idea. I feel pretty special; how many kids have a trapeze in their living room? I love pretending I’m in the circus. I swing back and forth. My dad claps.


Another tumor grows in his brain. The doctors will attempt once more to remove it. It hurts to see my once-active, crazy, funny dad lie in a hospital bed with hardly any life to hold on to. I don’t know what to do or say. I feel helpless. I was six.


The Silverthorne swimming pool is my favorite place to go. I love splashing in the shallow water and diving to the bottom of the pool. Sometimes I’m a mermaid, but today I’m a dolphin. My dad is always the shark. I decide I want to go down the big slide. Dad waits at the bottom while I climb the many stairs and eventually zip down. The force of the water pushes me to the wall of the pool. I decide to swim to the other side to show off for him. Not a good idea. My head goes under. Dad jumps in and grabs me.


I’m waiting for a miracle. Everyone else waits but knows the outcome. We’re standing by the hospital bed and my mom asks my dad if he wants us to come back tomorrow.

“No, Jordy and I are going fishing in Steamboat tomorrow,” he replies.

I’m confused but don’t say anything. I was six.


I sit quietly leaning against my dad watching “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s his favorite. Gaston is his favorite character. He roots for him every time, even though he’s the bad guy and is going to die in the end.

“Stop it, he’s the bad guy!” I scold.

He smiles, “He’s not the bad guy; he’s the hero.”

I glare at him and continue watching. I’ll never win that argument. The movie ends and I know it’s time for bed. I get up, do one last trick on the trapeze, and head for my room. My dad tucks me in.

“Good night, Jordy,” he says and kisses me on the forehead.

“Good night, Daddy,” I reply. He flips the lights off and I close my eyes.


I’m sitting on the couch when the phone rings. Even though I know it is coming, the news that my dad has died catches me off guard. That night I lost my dad and my best friend forever. I was six.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 28 comments. Post your own now!

bry.adamrocks said...
Oct. 23, 2012 at 10:27 am
Very nice....May God Bless you...
yolanda19 said...
Aug. 17, 2012 at 9:18 pm
That was so good!
jojo82897 said...
Mar. 8, 2011 at 6:29 am
Omg your story made me cry i am so sorry. I feel bad for because i have never felt this way in my life but your story made me imagine what if that happened to me! I am so sorry! D:
DinoNugget said...
Feb. 14, 2011 at 6:34 pm
I can't relate, but I absolutely loved the repitition of "I was six."  Beautiful!  It could easily be a poem.  Great job!
Katey11 said...
Dec. 16, 2010 at 2:55 pm
I am so sorry about your dad. I can sort of relate; I lost my dad when I was little also and it devastated me. You had a great relationship with your dad and its good that you remember the good things.
Vanne said...
Nov. 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm
I'm sorry for ur loss. I loved ur relationship wit ur dad, sounds like mine.....only he doesnt speak english
Demon_of_Truth said...
Oct. 25, 2010 at 5:06 pm
I feel your pain, I lost my best friend, my gradpa, four years ago. i was twelve. It was beautifully moving.
EternalLove said...
Oct. 25, 2010 at 12:34 pm
i am extremly sorry, my whole family is filled witth cancer and death but i love the way you wrote this, im truley sorry, and its very intruging to know you handeled this by writing it in such a well orginized peice. Thank you for inlighting us with your peice
Emerald said...
Oct. 2, 2010 at 9:49 pm

no words can explain how great and sad your peice is.

I am extremly sorry about your father. he sounds amazing.

Thrush said...
Sept. 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm
So beautiful and sad. This is excellent.
elpemmy said...
Aug. 23, 2010 at 4:37 pm
You made me cry. This is brilliantly written (although at the moment it sits a little too close to home for me)
heppychick05 said...
Jul. 31, 2010 at 3:14 pm
amazing story, and beautifully written! sorry about your dad
Let_It_Be said...
Jul. 9, 2010 at 5:28 pm
omg! my dad died of cancer 2! but i was 12, nd we wernt best friends, but close. so now im crying. beautifully writen
Heathurrlovesyouu said...
Jul. 1, 2010 at 10:30 pm
This is beautifully written. I can't imagine going through that at such a young age. Or any age, for that matter. I know this is a tragic event, but as ludacris as it sounds, you wrote it to such a beautiful tune. Adding the good times made it a bitter sweet story.
Lovergirl4ever said...
May 4, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I love have you show your emotions for yiour father the good times and the bad. May he rest in peace and keep him in you r heart always.


charzard said...
May 4, 2010 at 9:59 am
very good. depressing, but still good.
sassymscass said...
Apr. 9, 2010 at 11:18 am

this story is AMAZING!!! its well written and everything


Coach Bill said...
Feb. 5, 2010 at 5:33 pm
Alternating pleasant, precious memories with the harsh reality of the moment is a very compelling technique. Well done.
WriterFanatic This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 12, 2010 at 11:27 pm
That was the most beautiful writing ever! Isnt it sad that there is no cure for cancer? Keep your head high and keep on living. You are a fantastic writer, and your dad would be proud!
QuaddyAnn said...
Dec. 23, 2009 at 9:09 pm
I'm crying. This broke my heart. You should feel really proud of the way you write
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