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For Dad

By Taylor Kemp

PROMPT—I am grateful for ...

 “What are you doing right now?” my Mom asked.

 

“I’m in the Lab.”

 

“Are you in class?”

 

“No.”

 

“Well — your dad— he was in a really bad accident.” My mom’s voice trembled and cracked over the phone’s static.

 

What?! Is he okay? Is he alive? How? Why? What happened? 

 

 Questions and thoughts, thousands of them, began pouring into my mind. Tears filled my eyes and I felt my face get hot. It felt like forever before she continued talking.

 

“He was sitting in traffic when he was hit from behind at fifty-five miles an hour. He is okay. Just a little shaken up. But his car is totaled.”

 

The tears slipped out of my eyes, rolling down my cheeks.

 

“What?” my small voice quivered.

 

“He was hit so hard that his watch ripped off his wrist and was flung into the street. His car was pushed into oncoming traffic. But no one from the other lane hit him. He is okay.”

 

I continued to listen as she explained the situation in more detail. She told me about how his car slammed into the car in front him, with such force that his vehicle bounced off of that car, catapulting it over the double yellow line into the opposing lane of traffic.

 

I sat in disbelief. Tears continued to roll down my cheeks. My heart raced.

 

This doesn’t happen to us. It happens to other people, but not us. Today was just a normal day. I woke up, ate my usual breakfast, and went to classes. Nothing was out of the normal. Nothing was weird. It was a typical Monday.

 

Had I not received that news over the phone, I would have never known otherwise. I wouldn’t have known anything different. It would have been a typical Monday.

 

For one member of our family, this was a reality. For her, it was a typical Monday. In fact, she didn’t even find out about the accident until four days later.

 

My sister Marcie was serving a mission for our church. Part of the rules for her mission required that she could only communicate with us on one day of the week. That day for her was Friday. 

 

So, when my dad texted Monday afternoon, “No one tell Marcie right now please ...do not,” 

 

I immediately responded. “No worries. I won't say anything.”

 

I sent the text, immediately feeling a sense of guilt. For her, this was a typical Monday. She didn’t know. She didn’t know that Dad was in an accident. What if I had been in her position? What if I hadn’t known? Both Marcie and I are far away from home. What if they hadn’t told me?

 

After all, I am seven hundred and sixty-seven miles away. Ten hours and fifty-seven minutes from home. There was no way I would have known. And I can’t do anything to help. I can’t give him a hug. See that he is okay. All that I had were the images in my imagination. 

 

Totaled car.

 

Blood.

 

Dad.

 

I cried in shock and in fear for my Dad. Fear that he wasn’t okay.

 

Soon, but not soon enough, images and videos began pouring in. My eyes widened. 

 

Totaled car.

 

Blood.

 

Dad.

 

“But he was okay. He is okay,” I told myself.

 

But my thoughts tried to convince me otherwise. 

 

What if he wasn’t? What if the driver had been going a little faster? What if someone from oncoming traffic had hit him head on? What if he died?

 

He could have died, and I would have had no idea. It would have just been a typical Monday.

 

But Dad can’t die.

 

He can’t.

 

I am not ready. 

 

In that small moment, my fear took over. I realized that my dad could die. He can die at any moment in time. We all can. And one day we will. We will all die. There is no other way around it. Our time is counting down until that moment arrives. 

 

It kills me to say it, in fact, I don’t even want to write the words. I don’t want to write the words, because I don’t want to believe what I am about to say.

 

There will come a time when my dad is no longer on this Earth. He will no longer be there to calm my anxieties, give me his big warm hugs, or be there to crack a joke. He won't be there with me, making up ridiculous nicknames for the people that surround us. 

 

Memories flash through my mind like the introduction of a Disney movie. 

 

I remember those drives home from dance when he would blast music in the car, so loud that we would have to shout to communicate.

 

Or on many occasions when we would change lyrics to songs, instead singing about a made-up character named Joe who by the way, was always described in our songs as hairy, greasy, and a “filthy slime.”

 

Or during my teenage years, those many nights I battled with anxiety, a struggle he understood. I would run into my parents' room, hyperventilating. He would let me lie next to him and talk me through all the scary thoughts and feelings that were plaguing my mind. He helped me to know that everything would be okay. 

 

But without Dad, everything would not be okay.

 

Thinking about him no longer being here brings tears to my eyes. 

 

Dad can’t go. He can’t.

 

I remember the day when his dad, my Papa passed away. 

 

Did he feel the same feelings I am experiencing now?

 

Was it then that the realization hit him, that he could no longer talk to his dad? 

 

I sit here, now imagining myself in that position. 

 

I don’t want to be in that position. 

 

I never want there to be a day where I say my final goodbye to him, whether that be over the phone, or at his bedside. 

 

I love my dad too much to let him go.


 

Taylor Kemp is an advertising student at Brigham Young University. Her efforts have been focused on copywriting. In addition, she is working towards a minor in Creative Writing. Taylor is from Solvang, California.

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