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!

aurreeeyyyleee said...
Dec. 23, 2009 at 8:27 pm
T.G.F.W (too good for words)
Madi J. said...
Sept. 18, 2009 at 8:11 pm
beautifully written really sweet and i loved how you displayed your relationship with your father. May he rest in peace.
blinkingandbreathing said...
Dec. 12, 2008 at 3:09 am
wow, this was really well done. showed the sick beauty in tragedy. thanks for sharing with us. i got shivers.
topazgirl said...
Nov. 26, 2008 at 9:33 pm
This is amazing. So beautifully written!
doctoritabook517 said...
Oct. 14, 2008 at 11:26 pm
its beautiful. no, beautiful wouldn't even begin to describe it. its...i can't say it..
SomethingSpecial said...
Oct. 10, 2008 at 2:29 am
This story made me cry. It's beautiful.
itsPaige replied...
Dec. 23, 2009 at 11:46 pm
This made me cry. Probably one of the saddest and most well written things I've read.
KnitsandPurls replied...
Aug. 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm
Good for you for putting this out there. I thank you for sharing it with us.
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