In a Heartbeat, Everything Changed

I lie on my bed and sigh in boredom. I look over at the silver analog clock and its 7:49. Still no call. 8 o’clock. Nothing. 8:30. Still not here. My heart beats fast in my chest and I walk down the hall to the room that holds my grandma. Her face is heavy with worry. My eyes flick left and right looking for a sign of what happened.

“Your mother called”

“What did she say” I snap

“Something happened with your father.”

“What do you mean ‘something’” i yell

My heart beats faster than before and I sink to the ground. My stomach drops and brings my body along with it. I’m on the ground and I wrap my arms around my knees. My grandmother kneels down and embraces me in her arms and I sob into her chest.

The only thing that could possibly help me was sleep. Dreams to escape this reality where my father is sick. Where my world has halted to a stop.  I wrap the warm knit blanket over myself and I curl into a ball on his pillow. It’s flat and worn. He has had it since college and refuses to buy a new one. He was always so stubborn. Finally, with questions circling my head l I gave into the exhaustion and fall asleep.

I wake with a start to my realization it’s Tuesday and I begin my daily routine. I forget for a moment that my father is sitting a hospital somewhere, not well. Just that fact carries me back to his pillow and I cry until I fall asleep again.

I sleep through the day because I can’t stand the feeling of waiting. I hate waiting for dinner to be ready let alone waiting to see my father after I found out he had a minor heart attack. The only way I can make it through the day is to sleep, stare up at the ceiling and count the stick-on stars that I have had since the day I moved here. My day is on replay. Sleep, cry, and count the stars. Sleep, cry, read, count stars, etc. etc. etc.… It feels like my life is on an endless loop.

My grandmother wakes me up the next morning and makes me breakfast and for the first time in days I am solely aware of taking care of myself. My mind wanders down the rabbit hole of best and worst scenarios. Like WebMD in my head. Every avenue leads to fatality. The thought scares me. I attempt to push the negative thoughts from my mind, but fail. They linger there and grow additions of doubt, worry, sadness, anger. By now I have lost my appetite and thank my grandmother and sulk back up the stairs. I flop back on my bed and close my eyes. I open them again as I go over the exact words of my mother yesterday when she called to give me an update on my father’s status.

The surgery went well.

He’s in recovery.

He’s fine.


        I call my mother and ask her for all the specifics and she begins the retelling of the past two days. He went to the doctor because his arm hurt. the doctor said it was bad. They called the hospital. they got in the ambulance. Went to the hospital, had surgery, is in recovery. The end. That’s it. That’s all it took. His arm hurting. But no matter what they say about how there is no way I could’ve have noticed. It was so small the doctor barely saw it. But still how could my father have a heart attack and I didn’t notice? How does a healthy man get a heart attack without his wife or child knowing? The thought circle my mind as I question my observations and wonder if I could have prevented it. But most of all. i wonder how.

        It felt like no one spoke for the next day when we weren’t allowed to see him. I was forced to go to school but it was meaningless, as I didn’t absorb any information. I counted the minutes until I could leave and it would be closer to tomorrow and I could finally get answers to all my questions.

        I had never been to a hospital before. My mom considered it a blessing. I guess she was right. In all 11 years of my life I had never experienced a situation so bad I had to be brought to a hospital. But I also never knew the sadness and anger and pure depression that place brought with it. The thought that this is a place where people go when something was wrong. So wrong they couldn’t deal with it on their own. That meant that something was wrong with my father.

        I walk into the room and I see him laying with his back to me, sleeping. The nurse stops me at the door and pumped Purell into my palm. I knead my hands half in nervousness and half to spread the sanitizer. He hears the door creak and he rolls over and pulls his mouth into a half-asleep smile. I choke out a laugh as tears run down my face in relief. I finally feel okay.

        My head was on his large chest but the rest of me was curled into a ball next to him. The scratchy hospital blankets are itchy and uncomfortable against my skin but the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest and the strong, loud thumping of his chest distracts me.

        After three days of worry and pain and sadness and anger, I felt happiness and relief. I finally felt like myself again because I finally knew he was gonna be okay.


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