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 Mar. 19 2010 at 9:06 pm
elfiewrites BRONZE, Hillsdale, New Jersey
3 articles 0 photos 114 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The seat of knowledge is in the head, of wisdom, in the heart."~William Hazlitt
"Be yourself, everyone else is taken."

This is very touching and very well written.

on Mar. 19 2010 at 1:05 pm
This story is about a stuggle between a father and daughter trying to make it through life's obsticles and the BEST you can say is "I like it, now check my stuff out."? Thats silly. Its almost like saying "Hey, its fine. But mine is a million times better, so everyone look at mine instead." I dont mean to be rude, and god bless.

on Mar. 19 2010 at 7:24 am
krisssss BRONZE, Nyack, New York
1 article 0 photos 25 comments
This story is very touching. It makes you ponder life a little bit more, and recollect your thoughts on your loved ones. I'm so sorry that you had to go through all of this with your Father. My mother tells me the same saying, "that only the strong are engaged with the hard tasks, because the weak can't handle them." You truly are a survivor.

on Feb. 25 2010 at 2:34 pm
ShadowThief13 BRONZE, Colts Neck, New Jersey
3 articles 19 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
Enjoy life. Think of all the women who passed up dessert on the Titanic.
- Anonymous

this is touching... im sorry for all you have been through... im inspired

on Feb. 25 2010 at 2:15 pm
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

i like it :) can u look at my work please

on Jan. 14 2010 at 4:10 pm
I love how you showed how you feel you sorta remind me of Steffeny Mayor. Who wrote the twilight saga. I had gone though a lot too my parents got a divorce and my best friend moved away my best best dog had to be put down ect. but don't worry only the people who a perfect life never or will know what life is really about....... love and suvivle.


on Jan. 12 2010 at 10:59 pm
WriterFanatic PLATINUM, DesMoines, Iowa
24 articles 0 photos 184 comments

Favorite Quote:
A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
By Gandhi.

sorry I was replying to .o.o

on Jan. 12 2010 at 10:58 pm
WriterFanatic PLATINUM, DesMoines, Iowa
24 articles 0 photos 184 comments

Favorite Quote:
A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
By Gandhi.

How.. how could you say that? She wasn't really trying to hook us into reading as much as telling us about her experiences.

on Jan. 12 2010 at 10:57 pm
WriterFanatic PLATINUM, DesMoines, Iowa
24 articles 0 photos 184 comments

Favorite Quote:
A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
By Gandhi.

I too lost a family member who suffered from heart problems... And when he died I was 4000 miles away in an other country..=( Nice explanation, good work

on Jan. 12 2010 at 10:24 pm
This story is very sweet. Im glad that you and your dad made up..your words really show people not to hold grudges and that life is too short to stay mad.

on Jan. 12 2010 at 4:29 pm
i lost my grandpa when i was 12 so i can realate very good story and keep them coming

on Jan. 12 2010 at 1:57 pm
sillyaardvarkabc BRONZE, Riverside, Connecticut
4 articles 0 photos 63 comments
I can relate to this because my dad had open heart surgery because of his clogged aorta (from exercising TOO much, how is that fair?) and I went through something much like this, the agony and of course-- the wait. Not only that, but a year later, he got slight amnesia and had to got to the hospital again. Great writing, you should write more!

on Dec. 21 2009 at 8:59 pm
SuPeRfLyy! BRONZE, Moore, Oklahoma
4 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
I mean worse than usual

It's nice... I think we should be thankful for what we've got now; reading this really opened my eyes.

on Dec. 21 2009 at 5:25 pm
LostAngel DIAMOND, Jersey, New Jersey
65 articles 0 photos 89 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Just live your life, if people don't like the way you are doing it then they can get out of it" "if you can't stand me at my worst you dont deserve me at my best"

I love this!!!

scp619rocks said...
on Dec. 21 2009 at 5:25 pm
This is incredibly sad. I can relate to the fact, even though I was only seven when a tragedy like this happened to my grandma. She eventually died at the age of 83, with diabetes. She was a lovely person, and you make me realize how fragile life really is. By the way, you are a great writyer, and are very inspiring.

on Dec. 21 2009 at 1:13 pm
CanYouSeeTheCrazy PLATINUM, Cle Elum, Washington
21 articles 0 photos 125 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I know why everyone in this world is so desperate to find love."
"Oh yeah? Why then?"
"Because, it's the closest thing we have to magic."

i feel the same exact way. michelle voiced my exact opinion.

on Dec. 21 2009 at 2:56 am
SerenityMine BRONZE, Not Saying, California
2 articles 0 photos 156 comments
Wow that piece was captivating and held my interest the whole time which is unusual for me with nonfic. (I'm a fiction girl) I'm so sorry about your dad and you having to go through that. I hope he is better now. You're a great author, keep writing.

.o.o. said...
on Nov. 7 2009 at 8:05 am
it might have been a nice piece, but i couldn't get past the first line, 'june 31, 2007, started out a normal night.' i've heard that before in tons of other works. not to say that your writing might me bad, but it needs a new hook, this one's rusty

teenroses said...
on Oct. 16 2009 at 2:36 pm
teenroses, Lubbock, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 12 comments
this is a really cute piece.

on Aug. 24 2009 at 5:12 pm
PoetryIsLife BRONZE, Newark, Delaware
3 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
The people you need in your life are the ones that need you in theirs

This is so touching. I am so very sorry you had to go through that, I just would like to say that this piece was beautiful but it made me cry a little. How is your dad?