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Madison’s birthday party was soon! I’d just gotten out of the shower and was rushing to get dressed and do my hair and makeup. I could hear the phone ringing and expected dad to answer, or just let it go to the machine. Mom and my brother Josh were at the library at the time. I heard a voice on the answering machine and disregarded it. It was probably just something Mom or Dad had to deal with anyway.
Dad’s voice carried up the stairs, I could hear a hint of trouble when he said, “Stay here. I have to go, but I have my phone.” A look of concern and confusion crossed my face from his tone of voice.
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“Aunt Sherri is in the hospital…” I was in shock. What was going on? I made it quite clear to my dad that I was tagging along. She was too important to me for me to just shrug it off.
On the way Dad told me that Aunt Sherri was at Pat’s house (he was the one who called). Pat told my dad that Aunt Sherri was leaving his house at the time. He turned around, and upon turning back, he saw my aunt on the ground. She was coughing, which evolved into gasping, and there was blood.
We raced to Toledo Hospital and met Pat, my mom, and Josh there. We were anxious. There was no news to be heard about her current state. The desk manager told us there wasn’t even a person in emergency care with her name… What?! We sat there trying to find answers, even words in each others’ faces. Eventually, after what seemed like hours, they told us a person by the name of Sherri Fink had arrived at St. Anne’s. We scrambled to the cars, hungry for information.
I rode to the other hospital with my mom. I was doing my best to calm her down. My mom is a smart woman who knows exactly how to behave in certain situations. She kept saying, “Everything is okay,” and “She’s going to be fine.”
Finally, we reached St. Anne’s and inquired at the front desk. Minutes later we were greeted by a Chaplain, and another woman, who relocated us to a conference room. They were warm and welcoming toward us. Judging by their cheery dispositions, my family, Pat, and I awaited the words that would mean she was stable and would be home soon. We braced ourselves for reassurance.
The news we all hoped for was not to come. A look of disbelief crossed everyone’s face. They’re just kidding I thought. False. Almost simultaneously we cried out in realization, in shock, in anger, in refusing to believe what just came out of the Chaplain’s mouth. It hit my family like bricks. The world seemed to stop turning in our moment of despair. This beautiful soul we all cherished and loved more than she knew? My “second mom”? The woman who helped raise my brother and me? Why, God? Why now?
We were allowed to see her. She was lifeless. Pale. I can still see this gruesome, horrid picture. I hated life. TV and sleep distracted me from the event that permanently scarred me. I was a zombie. A loner. Life, school, friends, and hobbies faded before my eyes. I was out of words. After a while, I had no tears. A chunk of love had been torn out of my life.
After a week or two of this, prayers and words of hope, I was encouraged to look toward the bigger picture, toward God’s plans for life. I realized I was being selfish. The autopsy revealed that she had ovarian cancer, which has almost no symptoms, and usually the women don’t know they have it, so it’s called the “silent killer.” She died from a pulmonary embolism. As terrible as that sounds, the “silent killer” and its affects are slow and agonizing. I think it was by the mercy of God that she was taken before the cancer took over.
My family members all still have our times of tears, and our memories and our wishes to bring her back at any cost. Then we remember, everyone has her time, there were other plans for her and for us, and she left us for a reason.