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The Day That Changed My Life.

The sliding doors are opening –whoosh—and closing –whoosh—as shuffling feet pushing carts full of groceries and antsy children are entering and exiting the store.

“Welcome to Wal-Mart!”

My dad, brother and I glide by the fake cheery greeter –who is nonchalantly awaiting the next person to come—now on to what we came for; a birthday present! Turning eight years old the next day, you can only imagine the utter excitement I felt. My brother, who was a couple of years older, was not feeling the excitement that I was, because of course, it was my birthday not his. We were on our way to the toy aisle –between the checkout lanes and the women’s clothes— to scavenge the shelves for a new Bratz Doll.

When my excitement ended quickly, then suddenly there was terror in the air. Nothing would ever be the same after what came. My view on life changed drastically; from an innocent, oblivious child to someone with the utmost knowledge of tragedy. –due to an experience no one should ever have to go through—. My eyes were no longer those of a child’s, but enveloped with the sight of death.

I was greeted by my worst nightmare, my father collapsing onto the ground with a loud thud. My first thought was –‘Why are you falling on me daddy? It’s not funny anymore, get up daddy!’—Before I can even understand what’s happening, I’m shoved aside by all these huge strangers; their faces seemed substantially calmer than normal. Granted, never before have I seen such a tragic scene unfold before my innocent eyes. Scared and face dripping with tears, my brother darts to my side with the same reaction. Then, we see men and women rush towards our father, wearing uniforms with items that look extremely foreign to our young eyes.

What are they doing to my dad? Are they hurting him? Where are they taking him?

A heavy-set woman, with long curly blonde hair seeks out me and my brother and hugs us as if she’s known us our whole life. The folds of her plump lips lift; words of comfort form and hang in the heavy air.

“Audrey, Tyler, I know you guys don’t understand what’s happening to your dad, but he’s being taken to the hospital. Everything will be okay. Everything’s going to be alright kids.”

We have no response besides a waterfall of tears rushing from our eyes.

Outside in the parking lot, we watch as the funny looking car with bright flashing lights and weird noises departs. Then the woman drives us to where my father should be found smiling, breathing, and talking. Doing those simple things we take for granted, hugging me and my brother, calling my mom telling her everything’s alright and most importantly…living.

The waiting room is oddly calm knowing the situation at hand. –It feels like this is the longest night of my life.—It’s only me and my brother alone, sitting in an eerie room, full of empty space and a million unanswered questions. Not another person in sight, no one to tell us what’s happening or where we’re even at. The two of us are waiting for our dad to return and tell us everything’s okay; for our mom to come tend to our broken hearts, but mommy’s at work and daddy’s dying.

Hours later, a friendly familiar face arrives. My grandpa enters the room and holds us tight. A nurse comes out with a handful of my father’s possessions. I took the wedding ring that joined him to my mother. As the three of us walked out of that hospital room, my mind soared through a dark misty sky, filled with sorrow, despair, and anger. A sky that used to be bright and sunny filled with happiness and love. It was then that I knew life would never be the same; no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t have gotten a worse present in the world. Fatherless and traumatized, I entered my eighth year of life.

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