The Last Time This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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If I close my eyes, I can see it - the dark blue lake with all the ripples. There are trees surrounding the lake. The sun is setting into the water, as life stands completely still.
It is just my papa and me. I am sitting on his lap, fishing pole in hand as content as a six year old can be. There is a constant breeze that keeps the summer evening cool. His deeply tanned arms are wrapped around me snuggly, and I can feel him breathing in and out. He is wearing his white sun visor, black sunglasses, dark purple polo, a brown belt, some lightly colored denim pants, and his old white sneakers. I am comfortable with him here and could remain sitting on his lap forever.
As I sat with him on the white bucket, he told me something I will never forget. He started to speak and his voice was rough and cracking. His usual upbeat tone wasn’t there. His voice seemed heavy. That’s when I knew that something was very, very wrong.
I could start to feel my arms shaking. The fishing pole started get very heavy. My bottom lip was quivering and suddenly I was cold. Emptiness seemed to be soaking through my body like a piece of paper left out in the rain. My vision was fading as hot tears silently fell down my face.
He hadn’t even told me what was wrong yet. I was trying as hard as I could to not let anymore tears fall until a single tear ran down his face. What was so wrong, and why wasn’t he telling me what it was? I was starting to get mad until he put his big hand and covered his eyes. I hear him swallow. Suddenly I didn’t know if I should be here anymore. Then he looked up. I looked into his brown eyes and he finally spoke again. His voice was still the same, which I didn’t like.
After he told me that he had leukemia and explained it, thoughts were swimming around in my head, mostly confusion. Why did he make this such a big deal? Maybe it was because this is a really big deal? What would I do if he died?
It wasn’t even late in the night but I could tell that this was one of the saddest nights I would ever experience. I don’t understand what I would do if he had to leave me. He was always there and always knew the right thing to say.
The weeks seemed to pass so slowly until one day when his grandkids were allowed to see him. When my dad finally said that we could leave to see him, I ran to the car and I was so excited to see him. The excitement faded as soon as I stepped into his hospital room. It was cold and just so gray. His face lit up when we walked in. When he smiled it didn’t go ear to ear like it usually did. I was disappointed, and really upset. I did everything that I could so I wouldn’t cry. I did make it through the visit until we hugged goodbye. It wasn’t the normal warm hug, it was cold and hollow. As I looked at him for the last time before we left, I didn’t seem to recognize him. It felt as if he was already dead.
Soon my father started spending the night at the hospital, and barely coming home at all. I didn’t understand most the medical terms. I soon didn’t seem to understand anything at all that was going on with him. I tried my hardest to make it through the school day without crying. My world was crashing down and I had no one to lean on. I knew that if he did die, that he would be in a much better place.
One morning my dad came home and his eyes were red and puffy; like he had been crying for a long time. He came in my room and I got up and stood on my bed. I looked at him with the question in my eyes and all he did was nod. A single tear ran down his face, and time stood still. I didn’t want to believe it.
Everything was aching. My throat had a knot in it, no matter how many times I swallowed, it just wouldn’t go away. Eventually I heard my brother sobbing. No one came in my room but I knew by looking at the clock that we weren’t going to school. It’s hard for me to explain, but that day was dark. I feel like even now, that I am missing something, like I am seeing in black and white.





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