A flame glowed in our fireplace in a suburb of New Jersey as my brother and I watched Scooby Doo. My Daddy started coughing and he went into the kitchen. My Mommy rushed home from the supermarket and joined him. My Nana told me to sit with her and Grandpa on our fading couch. I watched the men carry my Daddy away on a stretcher, a starched white blanket covering his body. I told my crying Nana not to worry because everything would be okay. My Daddy never came home.
In my church youth group we had a discussion about why God does what He does. We all sat in a room and I could hear the fake fire crackling. There was a sheet of reasons and I thought they were dumb. They only left me with more questions than I had before. None of them seemed to make any sense. What could I have learned from my Daddy dying? What did I do to be punished? Why did God think it was "his time" to die?
The summer I was thirteen we went back to New Jersey and I saw my Daddy's grave. I'd only seen pictures before because I didn't remember seeing it when I was three. As I sat near the piece of stone embedded in the grassy earth I placed a rock on the gravestone as a Jewish blessing that Uncle Ron taught me. The wind was blowing my hair and I felt peaceful and it was as if my Daddy wrapped his arms around me and said, "It's okay, La."
"My memories are fading. I feel bad because I can't remember him. I can't remember his voice. I can't remember how it felt when he hugged me. All I remember is stupid things like when he gave me a pack of Trident gum on my third birthday." I paused, trying to get myself together. "It was the pink kind," I told him, crying.
"Lara, just because you can't remember him doesn't mean you don't love him and he doesn't love you," my friend said.
EXPOSURES, a Leelanau County Student Journal, has been published since 1988 to showcase the art and writing of Leelanau County high school students. The above two pieces appear courtesy of Exposures '97. More young writers and artists are available from their website at: http://www.leelanau.com/exposures/.