Inside, my mother sat crumpled in the corner of the sofa, dabbing her face with a handkerchief. She didn't even see me; my bloody knees, my dirty face. I wanted to yell at her, "stop crying and do something", though I hadn't a clue what she should do.
Weeks passed. He promised I would still see him, but he had not come by. I no longer waited for him on the front porch. I stopped watching out the window for his black sedan to turn into the driveway. I stopped praying before I went to bed. I just lay there peering into the darkness until I drifted off to sleep.
I dressed in a hurry, my heart thumping loudly. My father was in the hospital and I needed to be with him. Once there, I tiptoed into the sterile white room and sunk quietly into the seat at his bedside. He lay sleeping, his sallow face wet with perspiration. Beneath the sheet that framed his body, he didn't look like the tall, dignified man I knew. He looked helpless and broken. I reached for him, but a nurse grabbed my hand, "you must allow him to rest," she chided. "Your father is very ill". I could hear the muffled cries of a child.
"Wake up, Fay. " It was my mother's voice. I opened my eyes and she was standing over my bed. "You're having a bad dream."
It was a dream I continued to have. With each visit to the hospital my father was more ill than in the dream before. I watched him change from a tall fit figure to a gaunt silhouette of the man I'd known. Finally on a Wednesday night, he died.
In school the next day, I finished my English assignment ahead of everyone else. I turned to a clean sheet of notebook paper and on the first line wrote, Robert Aaron Paxton died last night. The recess bell sounded, I closed my notebook and went outside to play.
I didn't miss him anymore, but I would live to learn the truth about death.
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