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.

on Jul. 29 2010 at 1:54 pm
deus-ex-machina14 BRONZE, Stewartsville, New Jersey
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Favorite Quote:
"There are two main tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." -Oscar Wilde

This is very deep and very inspirational. Props to your mom for the great advice and to you for sharing this with us. Great job!

on Jul. 29 2010 at 12:40 pm
awesomeaugust GOLD, Boston, Massachusetts
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Favorite Quote:
"Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground"
~Theordore Roosevelt

It may have just been a typo about June 31st, or maybe the author ws tryign to make some kind of point. Either way, it seems like a petty thing to focus on. This article was sad, for sure, but it was well-written and had a hopeful ending. Great job

on Jul. 29 2010 at 11:39 am
GodsStudent BRONZE, Abc, Other
2 articles 0 photos 21 comments
Wow, I think you have a career in writing or art if you want one!

HiHiHiHi said...
on Jul. 7 2010 at 7:03 am
um....... her name is STEPHENIE MEYER. to me this doesn't remind me of her work because Stephenie Meyer is more of a supernatural writer, and hers is just... different. 

TuffGurl said...
on Jul. 7 2010 at 7:00 am
maybe she wanted to keep the date a secret; maybe she didn't want us to know. I think she knows that there is no June 31st. But it was a really good piece.

on Jul. 7 2010 at 2:25 am
K9_Typical_Islander SILVER, Koror, Other
7 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
Hours of boredom followed by moments of excitement (and adrenaline)- that's fishing

The first fact that caught my attention was the date "June 31, 2007" was an oddball, either that was a typo or this whole article might fall under fiction category...

Anyways, this is a strong piece. Well written. I can relate with it. Thumbs up!

on May. 24 2010 at 10:13 pm
collegegirladventures GOLD, Mequon, Wisconsin
10 articles 8 photos 307 comments

Favorite Quote:
A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.

~Salman Rushdie

WOWOWOWWWW!!! This story made me cry. Great writing!!

wolfiemoon said...
on May. 24 2010 at 6:48 pm
Wonderfully written. I can relate, because about a week ago, my Grandfather died. My mom's dad. I never got to know him, because he lived in Mexico while I lived in the U.S since I was 3. He died, and when I went to hug my mom, I started crying. I realized, he died, and I never and never would be able to know him. But my dad said, "Be strong." I came close to tears when I read this :) 

HelloLove said...
on May. 24 2010 at 4:55 pm
HelloLove, Dexter, Michigan
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Favorite Quote:
Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you're at.
Tut, tut, child! Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it.

Haha! So true!


on May. 24 2010 at 12:14 pm
sundaelover116 BRONZE, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Favorite Quote:
"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind" ~Dr. Suess

LOL!!! so true =)  Does this article now fall under fiction???????  hmmmmmm

on May. 24 2010 at 1:39 am
ajkerensa SILVER, Winona Lake, Indiana
6 articles 4 photos 3 comments
Am I the only one that noticed there is no such think as a June 31? There are only 30 days in June...

on May. 2 2010 at 9:38 pm
BlackKittie SILVER, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
8 articles 1 photo 55 comments
i love've written it in a way that displays no self pitty, which is very hard to do.a wonderful story.

on May. 2 2010 at 3:54 pm
Adrenalinejunkie52 SILVER, Sweet Home, Oregon
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geez louise!
Hot Dang!!
Wasshupp?!!? (wuh-shup)
Hey You!

Wow. That was up there with famous novels. Great Job!

miss_mt_dew said...
on May. 2 2010 at 11:53 am
miss_mt_dew, West Palm Beach, Florida
0 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
Jesus may love you, but everybody else thinks you're an a**.

hi elissaaaaaa... i found you.... shnoink shnoink!!!!!!!!! 

miss_mt_dew said...
on May. 2 2010 at 11:51 am
miss_mt_dew, West Palm Beach, Florida
0 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
Jesus may love you, but everybody else thinks you're an a**.

elissaaaa!! haha i found you in the comments by total accident... its such a good story, right...? i got teary-eyed ;(

on Apr. 10 2010 at 9:59 pm
jOjOsfreakingCIRCUS GOLD, Brentwood, Tennessee
11 articles 4 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
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That was incredible. Wow

on Apr. 10 2010 at 5:19 pm
Kristy_loves_Keats PLATINUM, Arvada, Colorado
23 articles 0 photos 99 comments
in summer of 09 i lost my great grandma. i never knew who she was because she had many heart attaks and was just not herself she could talk correctly anyymore, never mad and when she did talk you had no idea what she was saying. and she could walk much and she would hide things and you would never find them again. it was sad when she died and it was a horibul feeling to know i was in colorado and she was in texas. and i wasnt there to comfert my grandmother who was an angel for takeing care of my great grandma

on Apr. 10 2010 at 2:24 pm
thisisascreenname BRONZE, Sugarloaf, California
4 articles 0 photos 32 comments
That was an amazing story. im sorry about your father having a heart attack, but glad that you had the strength to forgive him in the end. life is too short for regrets. great job.

on Apr. 10 2010 at 7:22 am
Physics981 PLATINUM, York, Pennsylvania
38 articles 1 photo 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Failures help one grow as a person.

This is a very well-written post. I felt very sorry that your father had a heart attack but am very glad that he had recovered. And I think that you did the right thing by forgiven him. Life IS too short to bare hatred against your own father.

on Mar. 20 2010 at 11:03 am
adristar96 SILVER, Miami, Florida
9 articles 4 photos 77 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life is like a box of chocolate, You'll never know what your gonna get. :) Forest Gump

well this person already got published and i'm trying my best to get published as well. I'm not saying that my work is a million times better i just want to see what she thinks about my work since she writes WAY better than me and see if she can help me improve.