Survivors | Teen Ink

Survivors MAG

April 23, 2009
By Ashley Keane BRONZE, Wyckoff, New Jersey
Ashley Keane BRONZE, Wyckoff, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

June 31, 2007, started out like a normal summer night. I hung out with friends, my dad picked me up, I stayed up late watching TV and reading a book, and finally I went to bed. All seemed fine and I was content.

Then at 2 a.m. I was suddenly woken by the phone. Even though I checked the caller ID and saw that it was Valley Hospital, I felt no panic. I rationalized that it must be a nurse calling to confirm my father’s cardiology appointment. So, when I answered and was greeted by my mother, I became a bit confused, to say the least.

“Mom? Why are you calling from the hospital? What happened? Are you okay?” I asked.

“Ashley … your father’s with the doctors. He’s had another heart attack. I don’t know when I’ll be home … sometime later this morning.” Although my mother sounded as if she’d been to hell and back, she was all business. After an awkward moment, we said good-bye halfheartedly.

After I put the phone down, anger like bars of searing iron seemed to embed itself in my chest, replaced moments later with an arctic chill bleeding through me. My father had almost died, and I had been reading a book. I had been told the danger was over, that his heart was healing after multiple stents had been inserted, but apparently, it wasn’t over. I wanted to cry and vomit but I didn’t dare do either. Instead I walked to the living room, sat on the couch, and thought.

Mostly I thought about my past with my father. It was 1996 when he had the first heart attack, and life hadn’t been the same since. My “daddy” had been taken away and a new, more intimidating and angry man came home from the hospital.

Then I thought of the recent past. How we got into petty arguments almost daily. How I had told him I loved him when I was thinking I didn’t at all. How I aggravated him because I refused to let him intimidate me into being obedient (as he had when I was a kid).

Although our relationship had been improving lately, I still hadn’t forgiven him for how he treated me or my mother when I was growing up. My mother always told me to let go of it because she had. But I couldn’t, and in that moment, I regretted that. All I could think about was that my father could die without really knowing his daughter and I would never know the man my father truly was.

The next day is still a blur. I remember walking through the hospital lobby that looked more like a hotel (except for all the sick people in wheelchairs), thinking about the words my mother had said to me when I was 15. She told me that God does these things to us because he knows how strong we are, because we are the ones who can handle it. She said that God knew the weak wouldn’t be able to handle these hardships and that is why he sent them to us, because we’re survivors.

“That is why we cannot cry,” she said gently but firmly, as if teaching a child an important rule. “We need to be strong for those we love.”

Although I tried to compose myself in that blank, white hallway, nothing could have prepared me for the sight when I walked into my father’s room. My strong, healthy father had been reduced to a haggard old man in just hours. His face looked ashen and aged, with every wrinkle and blemish accentuated by the fluorescent light. His salt and pepper hair seemed brittle and thin. Tubes and wires ran in and out of him in every direction. I didn’t know if I could handle seeing this, but I knew I had to.

I still remember the blood stain on his sheets from when his catheter tube was taken out. The dark crimson seemed to be screaming at me in that white, sterile environment. The horror of seeing my father’s blood spilled and not being able to prevent it … I’ll never forget that. The worst part was pretending it wasn’t there. Pretending that everything was okay, that I didn’t sob when I was alone begging for this to be some kind of sick dream and for forgiveness, and begging that I wasn’t really sitting in the Critical Care Unit of Valley Hospital with my father looking as if he’d stared death in the face and barely managed to come back alive. The entire scene disgusted me in a way that still haunts me in an occasional nightmare.

At first, my father and I didn’t look at each other. Whether we were both pretending like we usually did or were afraid of the emotion we might see in each other’s eyes, I’m not sure. But when my father’s tired, brown eyes finally locked with mine, a lazy grin spread across his face, and I knew my world had changed again. I knew I had forgiven him. Life was too short and too fragile for me to stain it with my stubborn refusal to forgive him. Finally I understood my mother’s words and I became what she told me we were: a survivor.

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This article has 91 comments.

Writer62 said...
on Oct. 12 2011 at 1:49 pm
AMAZING!!! Keep writing. Gave me chills as i read the last line. Breathtaking.

on Oct. 12 2011 at 6:56 am
SpringRayyn PLATINUM, Lakeville, Minnesota
34 articles 2 photos 658 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't punish yourself," she heard her say again, but there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness too. That was writing."
--Markus Zusak, "The Book Thief"

June 31 isn't a real day....

amber603 GOLD said...
on Sep. 20 2011 at 7:59 pm
amber603 GOLD, Durango, Colorado
10 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That's where I will always love you. That's where I'll be waiting." - J.M.B.

To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." - J.K.R.

i'm sorry about your dad but the adjectives were unbelievely incredible, it made my mind just fill up with action and it was beaytiful writing. Great job, love to read more!

on Sep. 20 2011 at 7:07 pm
kaylarocks SILVER, AURORA, Colorado
9 articles 0 photos 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The more you take responsibility for your past and present, the more you are able to create the future you seek." - Author Unknown

Extremly touching story!!

on Sep. 20 2011 at 12:09 pm
VioletRoyal BRONZE, Lebanon, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 26 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To be great takes time." - NK

This was a very heartfelt story! This is an amazingly written piece! Write some other pieces! Would love to read them!

on Aug. 29 2011 at 1:56 pm
XxXBella.AmoreXxX, That Small Suburb By Manhattan., New York
0 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"But can you love someone, who doesn't love you back?"

" I'd rather laugh with the sinners, than cry with the saints"

i know u hav heard this in the previous comments. but this is excellently written great job and keep writing :))

on Jul. 16 2011 at 11:15 pm
KristinHopkins8 SILVER, Aspen, Colorado
7 articles 0 photos 83 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die"

BEAUTIFUL story. you were able to potray a heart breaking story through the eyes of a troubled person, and still make us all see the beauty of being a survivor.

HI :) said...
on Jun. 2 2011 at 8:37 pm
Your piece was very inspiring and made me think about my grandfathers...both of them died before I was born, so I didn't know them. But I wish I did. Both of them died of heart attacks. It was really sad. Now my grandma on my mother's side can barely walk and has diabetes, and the grandmother on my father's side had a stroke and can barely walk or talk. Anyway, I loved your piece it was very heartfelt, inspiring and interesting! Great job!!!!

on May. 11 2011 at 10:29 pm
callieeebeth SILVER, Fort Worth, Texas
6 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
"For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

i love this. it reminds me of when my dad died. we had a lot different relationship than you and your dad did, but i still had all the same emotions. i was buying a belt when my dad's aorta ruptured, and it just seemed so ridiculous to me like reading a book did to you. i'm glad yall are doing better. :)

Danes said...
on May. 11 2011 at 10:44 am
Wow. Deep my friend, reminds me of when I lost my gramps, I can relate, fantastic writing, it really makes you think. Hope your Pop is still doin okay. <:)

wolfqueen13 said...
on Apr. 19 2011 at 1:12 pm
Wow, very nice! Even though I am normally one for fantasy stories, this one caught my attention. I loved your use of detailing. My problem with my stories, is that sometimes I get too carried away with the details and forget about the actual story! o.o

on Mar. 28 2011 at 11:00 pm
PerfectMGymnast DIAMOND, Parker, Colorado
57 articles 25 photos 633 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you don't leap you'lll never know what it's like to fly"

This was so beautifully written and very touching!! i loved how the emotion flowed well through the words!! :)

mary said...
on Mar. 6 2011 at 8:42 pm
this was very well written. very emotional. I lost my dad in 1998, so this was very moving for me. thanks for sharing

on Mar. 6 2011 at 1:15 pm
AbigailElizabeth SILVER, Medina, Minnesota
8 articles 0 photos 79 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Scars are souvenirs you never lose" - Goo Goo Dolls

very well written, and very touching. it's a beautiful piece, even though it's so sad. you have inspired others with this, i'm sure(:

XCLover GOLD said...
on Feb. 12 2011 at 12:38 pm
XCLover GOLD, Sandpoint, Idaho
18 articles 0 photos 92 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I know I run like a girl, try and keep up!" ~Anon
"You only ever grow as a human being if you are outside your comfort zone." ~Percy Cerutti
"The hug is incomplete without you :3" NinjaMan

This is very well written. You capture the fear and the raw nerves and the emotional tension of the experience brilliantly. Keep on writing!

jemter GOLD said...
on Dec. 30 2010 at 5:10 pm
jemter GOLD, Oakley, California
14 articles 36 photos 33 comments
um, I'm pretty sure she's writing about herself; this is a non ficton section. She did'nt make any of it up.

on Dec. 8 2010 at 11:56 am
ilovetinkerbell GOLD, Raytown, Missouri
13 articles 0 photos 85 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be yourself!!!

This is very good and sad. I really liked it. great job with the emotions and the decriptions. keep up the good work. :)

on Oct. 25 2010 at 6:37 pm
i dont know weather this comment will catch your attention or not, with all the comments below, but i just wanteed to say that this was well written, and my favorite paragraph was the one where her dad's blood is on the sheets. i think that thats when she reallizes that she needs to forgive her dad, even thoughit says she knew she needed to forgive him in the paragraph after that. good job!

on Oct. 25 2010 at 4:44 pm
fashionlover16 SILVER, New Gloucester, Maine
5 articles 0 photos 49 comments

Favorite Quote:
I honestly don't know what my favorite personal quote is. I can tell u what i like, if u want that. I really like the twilight series. whenever my mom suggests that we should go shopping, i light up. I love shopping. well thats about it, byez!!!!! <3

yea i know, i luv this story! great job

hrf1434 GOLD said...
on Jul. 29 2010 at 7:13 pm
hrf1434 GOLD, Collierville, Tennessee
10 articles 4 photos 66 comments

Favorite Quote:
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover

I really loved the story, and I think god was trying to get your attentetion so you would forgive your father.