Why Me?

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“Katie, your dad needs to talk to you.” I heard these words coming from behind me in a very calm, yet serious voice. When I looked over to grab the phone, I saw my best friend’s mom blankly staring at me and my stomach immediately dropped. I came to a complete stop as my brothers, my best friend, and her mom were all walking closely behind me as we were making our way across Disney’s Magic Kingdom. We were on our way to wait in the never-ending line for Space Mountain, my favorite ride at the park. Thoughts were racing through my mind of what could be wrong, however I didn’t want to show any emotion in front of my brothers and friend. Before grabbing the phone, I kept asking my friend’s mom, “Why me? Can’t you just give the phone to Jimmy?” She continued to tell me that my dad wanted me, and only me, to talk to him. I couldn’t process why he wanted to talk me, his 12 year-old daughter, about a matter that appeared to be very serious. I knew at that moment that this would be a phone call that would deliver terrible news.

It was Spring break and my family was vacationing with my best friend and her mom in Orlando, Florida. We were having an unbelievably great week until my mom and dad got an emergency phone call on the second to last day of our trip. They didn’t want me or my brothers to wonder or be worried so, my mom and dad simply informed us that my grandma wasn’t feeling well. They packed all of their belongings up and headed off to the airport to catch a plane back to Chicago. Both my mom and my dad seemed upset which I wasn’t used to, however I ignored the fact that something was a little off. I tried to put this to the side considering I was having an unforgettable time at Disney World, the most magical place on earth. We were constantly rushing from one ride to the next and I actually thought it was going to be a blast to spend the last few days without my parents. No parents meant no rules! My brothers, my friend and I continued to go on with our day at the Disney theme parks, laughing and joking around with each other.

Little did I know, that later that day I was going to have to share news with my brothers that I knew would break their hearts. I finally had the courage to grab the cell phone out of Mrs. Vandevelde’s hands to speak to my dad. My entire body was shaking uncontrollably and I felt tears welling in my eyes. I felt embarrassment come upon my face as herds of people were constantly walking past me and staring. After a few seconds of holding the phone to my ear, I said, “Hello” in a very quiet voice. As soon as that one word came out of my mouth, I immediately knew that something was wrong. My dad’s voice was serene and it sounded as if he was going to cry, which was something I didn’t experience very often. He slowly started talking and I burst out in tears. “I need you to tell your brothers that grandma is having a hard time fighting her cancer and she is very sick. Me and mom are here with her now, but you need to tell them that she might not live much longer.” I was speechless as tears continued to stream down my face and onto my shirt. Finally I responded and said, “I can’t do that, dad.” I had no desire to tell my brothers that our grandma was going to die soon. She was one of our biggest fans and one of the most important people in our lives. He talked to me for a few more minutes trying to be encouraging and assuring me that everything would be okay. At this moment, my brothers knew that something was wrong and there was no choice other than to share the horrible news with them.

I glanced behind me and saw my brothers, my friend, and her mom staring at me with blank expressions waiting for me to share what happened. The looks on their faces only made me more upset. Staring at the ground, I slowly walked over and explained to them what my dad had told me. Both of my brothers slowly dropped their heads and tears started rolling down the sides of their red cheeks. We stood in silence for a few minutes and then Mrs. Vandevelde came over and wrapped her arms around me telling me that everything would be okay. Seeing my brothers so upset broke my heart. These were the people who I looked up to and relied on to keep me strong. The boys in my family are rather unemotional, so seeing them break down right in front of me only made the situation worse.

After a while of remaining silent and crying off to the side of the theme park, we wanted to continue to go on rides to keep us distracted. We proceeded to walk over to Space Mountain, pushing through the mobs of people surrounding us. I felt as if the rest of this trip would now be completely ruined. As we started walking, my friend signaled me to slow down, so me and her could have a few moments alone. No words came out of her mouth as I waited for her to talk. I looked away and watched the people around me laughing and screaming until I heard a quiet voice say, “I’m here for you.” I was so embarrassed that all of this had to come about in front of her, however she made everything seem perfectly normal.

For the rest of the trip, all I could think about was what was going on back in Chicago and how was my grandma holding up? Different scenarios played over and over in my head and occasional tears would slowly roll down my sweaty cheeks. That one phone call continues to play over and over in my head and seems like it was just yesterday. Taking that call was a hard obstacle to overcome, however I knew that there was a reason that my dad wanted to talk to me instead of my brothers. He explained that I was the responsible one and he knew that I would handle the situation in a mature manner. Although our family vacation was cut short, I grew up a little that day. I learned the importance of friends and family and how short life can actually be.





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