Time to Live | Teen Ink

Time to Live

February 8, 2008
By Kathryn Mahan PLATINUM, Fredonia, Kansas
Kathryn Mahan PLATINUM, Fredonia, Kansas
43 articles 53 photos 0 comments

It’s another day
more things to do
more steps to take
more time to live.

Before breakfast I run
to my father,
my tie to hope,
and he’s sleeping. I think.
I put my hand above his mouth,
feel his tired breath.
Yes, he’s sleeping.

I adjust his blankets,
move the phone closer.
My number’s on an emergency key.
Breakfast is dry cereal
that feels like cardboard but shouldn’t
because I’ve been here so long.

Always the panic
I’ll find his heart still.
Always the fear
he’s left me.
And he will one day,
one day soon.

But I don’t want him to.

I go to work;
I’m very devoted…
because work is a distraction.

I call home at three like I always do.
Dad’s never mad if I wake him.
“Hi, Daddy. How’re you doing?”
“Good day, today.” he says tiredly.
“I ate some crackers, and let King outside.”
“Thanks, Daddy.” King’s my dog,
more loyal to Dad than me.
“See you later.” he answers, and
I dare to believe him. “Love you.”
“You, too.”
I hang up the phone and move away.

Our day’s half-way through.

He’s awake at six, watching TV news
with a grimace.
“What’s up?” I ask, child-like.
“Why is it the public wants the bad news?”
he responds, frowning.
I shrug, pat his blanket-covered leg,
and head into the kitchen to make dinner.

That evening, I fill the tub for a bath.
He’ll bathe himself.
I sit just outside the bathroom door,
listening in case he calls.
When the water’s cold, I get him a towel
and help him stand.
His trembling hands let the towel fall
into the draining tub.
I help him sit on the lavatory lid
and hand him a fresh towel.
“That’s okay. It was an accident, Dad.
That’s okay.”

When he’s dried and dressed
and ready for bed,
I get him a glass of water,
pulls the covers to his chest (he’s always cold)
and give him the TV remote.
“Goodnight, Dad. I love you.”
“You, too.”
On the way out, I click
on a two-way monitor.
If he needs me, I’ll be there.

Once in my own room,
I find a comforting childhood
picture book, which,
remembering my dad
reading it to me, pulls
unwanted tear from my eyes.
Silent tears, so Dad won’t hear,
until I finally fall asleep.

The next day, I move to his bedroom.
My father,
my friend,
my life.
My hand feels his
soft-worn breath,
and I smile.

Another day –
more things to do,
more steps to take,
more time to live.

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