March 25, 2009


Afterglow by Danielle Zonghi

Afterglow . . . I'd like the memory of me to be a happy one. I'd like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.

I paused as I read the prayer card to my younger sister.

I'd like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways, if happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.

I paused once again, wiped her tears and comforted her with a hug.

I'd like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun, of happy memories that I leave when life is done.

I hugged my sister once again and went to my room. I often sat alone thinking about what happened on that Christmas morning. It seemed like yesterday that we were a happy family of five. No sickness. No tears. My life seemed blurry, almost like it never happened. I tried not to think how my mom had woken me up to tell me that the man I sometimes hated, who had finally accepted our differences, whom I loved more than anything, had quietly passed that morning. I remember I didn't cry when she told me. I couldn't. I had cried for too many days. I just looked at my mom in shock as though she was telling me a lie right to my face. It couldn't be real, he wasn't supposed to die. He was supposed to get better.

I felt the tears building.

Why? He was young and had lots of life to live. I tried to forget these thoughts and look back. My mom always told me to remember the happy times that my father and I shared, but these memories were blocked, trapped in the depths of my mind, the thoughts of the past month holding them hostage. All I could think about was that night when we were sitting with him.

All of us - my mom, my two sisters, and I - sat there crying because my dad couldn't breathe and refused oxygen. I remember holding his hand and feeling him squeeze it while he struggled for each breath we thought could be his last. He'd look me in the eye and then roll his eyes back as if he couldn't take it anymore and just wanted us to let him go. The small dining room turned hospital room with all its medical supplies was hot, and all our faces were red from the tears.

I looked at my mom who had gotten up to grab the oxygen tank and put it on my gasping father. I remember her saying, "Fred, I know you don't want to die. We need you; we love you; spend one last day with us." She started crying as she attached the oxygen to his nose. I had stopped crying and just rubbed my father's hand. My sisters were sniffing and beginning to relax. The room went from a stuffy crying chaotic mess to an almost comfortable place. My sisters and I left as he finally was able to get his one lung working again. It was a constant battle for him; it had been two years since he had his right lung removed, and he had gotten used to it.

I shake my head as a tear falls. These thoughts give me the shivers. A year has passed since my father left his cancer-filled life and moved on to the peacefulness of heaven to look over our family. We still have those times where we look back and cry because we miss him. Today is September seventeenth, the day that he would have turned forty-eight. I try to push the good thoughts through, but I could still hear the horrible cough that filled our quiet house or the mumbles of my father who couldn't remember our names but was glad we were there to comfort him.

It is eerie remembering these events. I shake my head trying to forget, but it doesn't work. I close my eyes and sigh. I sit for a few minutes just thinking. I open my eyes and start reading those words that keep the memory of my father's spirit.

I'd like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways, if happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.

These words make me remember. He would have said something like, "Your life will go on." It comforts me to think he was right. My life has gone on. I'm stronger now, and I have him to thank. I look at his picture on the nightstand, let out a sigh and smile. I walk out of my room full of thoughts of happy times and hard times, but I look at his picture, and I smile knowing his afterglow is with me in my heart, in my mind and in my soul.

Source: Teen Ink - Afterglow by Danielle Zonghi

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