Faces This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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When I walked into the hospital room, my grandfather was laying against the raised backrest of his cot, each pained breath facilitated by the IV tube hooked to his body. He had bladder cancer and had just undergone surgery to remove the tumor. But with it, the doctors had also sliced away a piece of his masculinity. Rather than the powerful, towering, domineering figure I had feared my whole childhood, my grandfather looked so small, every piece of his dignity stripped away as he could barely urinate without quivering into my mother’s arms as she held up his upper body and my grandmother holding a jar between his legs. As the nurse changed the sheets, my grandfather’s head drooped away from us, his eyes half closed with weariness, as we discovered the large brown mark in the center of the sheet that he had tried to hide beneath his blanket.
My father and I looked away as he weakly climbed back into bed in his hospital gown, his exposed wrinkled back hinting at the muscle that once held him upright and strong. He looked so frail, so weak, so human, I couldn’t help but try and focus on anything but him.
My eyes fell on the chart hanging across from his bed, measuring a patient’s pain on a scale from 1-10 with corresponding faces ranging from 1- a yellow happy face to 10-a brown crying face. The bolded question, “How Are You Feeling Today?” seemed to mock me. I’m feeling alone today, I answered silently. Where’s your facial expression for that? There we were, the four of us, standing quietly around my grandfather’s bed, together but apart. We were only a few inches away from one another but were separated by the valleys of our own pain, because saying how we felt would only have made it worse.
I looked at my dad, who was now looking out the window with his back to us so we would not see his tear streaked face. My own face mirrored his, with red, wet eyes saying everything I couldn’t say out loud. But I couldn’t reach him. He had locked himself away from me as we had always done to one another, relying on our own strengths to carry us through our pain, afraid to show our weakness to anyone else. I looked back at my grandpa and saw my dad taking his place in twenty years, dilapidated and humbled from the folly of mere humanity.
I wanted to run to him and bury my face in his chest, showing him my fear of running out of time with him, my fear of never getting to know him, before he too would rely on science to see the next day. But I couldn’t move, my body trapped in its position by the shield my dad had put up around him. As I started to drive myself home an hour later, I began to cry for all the things left unsaid between me and my dad, for all the “I Love You”s I was always too proud to say, for all the opportunities to build a real relationship with him that I walked out on because I assumed I would have more time. I wanted to show him my broken heart; I’m just human too.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

bobgrlz said...
Jul. 10, 2012 at 12:56 am
This is an absolutely beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing it with all of us. It's so easy to relate with, and just so genuine. 
 
HarryPotterLover30 said...
May 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm
This is really amazing. I'm so sorry that this happened to you; I know how horrible it feels to lose or almost lose someone close to you. This was very good, I could almost feel the emotions. But yet again, I'm sorry that there had to be emotions to feel. That must have been terrible. Keep on writing!
 
sabina22 said...
Nov. 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm
Your a really good author :)
 
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