PLEASE NOTE: I am going to be posting the whole story as I have finished it. Please let me know what you think. All comments are welcome!
Story about a young girl whose life goes on hold when her father gets sick.
A Short Story.
Andie watched as the doctors wheeled her sick father past her. She knew that this was one of the last times she would ever see him alive; and it hurt.
“Am I able to have a moment with him?” She bravely asked the doctor in charge of her father’s well-being.
“Of course, Andie. I will organise it,” he replied kindly. Quicker than Andie thought it would take, she was standing next to her father’s frail body in a quiet, pale white ward room. She took his hand gently.
“I love you, Dad. Don’t you ever forget it, okay?”
“I know you do. I love you too my angel. You’ve always been there for me – sometimes I didn’t even deserve it,”
“You always deserved it. You’re my father. I will always be on your side. Always be here for you,” Andie let a tear roll down the side of her face.
“Don’t cry. I am not worth the tears,” her father looked up at Andie and studied her face. Big brown eyes and long brown hair; both of which were inherited from him. As he stared at her pretty face he thought of how it was really only Andie, out of all of his children, who had really stood by him and ploughed through his battles with him. He adored her for that but at the same time, by letting her help him, he was in-advertadly allowing her to put her life on hold, and he disagreed with that. He had always wanted her to go to university and get a degree but Andie, being as stubborn as she is, had insisted that while he was sick, he was going to be her priority. No matter what. ‘Life can wait’ she would always say. It had been five-years since he had become sick and three since he had to quit his job and become semi-dependant on her help. She never seemed to mind though, and never complained. She was an innocent young girl though and that worried her father. How would she be if he passed on? Would she cope? He knew all too well that even though she was there for him, she was also there because she didn’t know life without him. He didn’t want her life to stop when God called for his.
Three years ago, Andie was a 17-year-old high school student who got straight A’s and would come home every day straight after school. Some would have called her a loner, but they didn’t understand the real reason behind it. Most days, waiting for her at home, was a man in his forties. A man with a slightly yellow complexion, and many medication bottles beside his bed. Almost religiously, the first thing Andie would do when she got home would be to check on the sick man; her father.
“How are you feeling?” she would routinely ask him. He always replied with a small nod, too sore to speak. Then she would dose him up on his painkillers, give him a gentle kiss goodbye, and leave the room. Andie always left the bedroom door open a jar; just in case something happened to him in her absence from the side of the bed. She would then go to her room and complete as much homework as she could, before having to make dinner for them; soup for him and pasta for her. It was one of the only things she knew how to make well enough for him to stomach. He found it hard to eat more mainstream meals so every day, without fail, Andie would cook up a small pot of soup. Every day it was a different flavour. And every day, her father would be grateful. Andie and her father lived alone in a two-bedroom flat in the south-end of Nelson. They had lived like this since Andie turned thirteen. Even though there were many other children in the family, it had always seemed to be Andie and her Dad. When her Dad started drinking heavily, Andie was there to pick up the pieces. When her older brother got violent, it was Andie who was at her Dad’s side. When her Dad got sick, it was Andie who would end up becoming his live-in helping hand. Andie never complained, she felt that if she did complain, it was being selfish.
After being diagnosed as being unfit to work, Andie’s Dad’s health had deteriorated. He became more jaundice, and more weak. It hurt Andie and eventually, just after graduating high school, she took on the role as her father’s main guardian. It was a fulltime job, but it was what had to be done.
Eventually her father became bed-ridden and had to be admitted to hospital. Scared and completely alone, Andie stayed with her father most nights, and made sure the nurses took good care of him.
On the eve of the new year, Andie was at the hospital as usual, when her Dad spoke quieter than he normally did.
“Andie,” he said softly.
“Yes Dad, I’m here,”
“I want you to know that I appreciate everything you’ve done for me the past few years. I know it wasn’t easy and that it was very scary for you. But it is all going to be over soon, I can feel it,” he closed his eyes which were full of tears. He didn’t want Andie knowing exactly how he felt, but he needed her to be put at ease.
“What are you saying Dad?” Andie asked curiously.
“I am saying that one of these days, it will all be over and you will be able to live a normal life,”
“Don’t speak like that Dad. You’re just dosed up on pain medication, you don’t know what you’re saying,”
“Okay Andie. But remember I love you and I always will,” He closed his eyes once more.
The next morning Andie woke to the sound of the nurses bustling louder and quicker than usual.
“What’s going on?” She asked the nurse closest to her.
“Oh Andie, I am so sorry...”
Andie jumped up to see her father’s pale face and body lying peacefully in the bed. He had passed during the night, without a sound, but with Andie by his side. There was a note for Andie on the bedside table. It read: ‘Dear Andie, I know that you didn’t want this day to ever come, and neither did I, but I feel that my time is over. I want you to know and understand that I love you with all my heart and you will always be on my mind. I will watch over you continuously and forever. These past few years have taught me that no matter how many friends you may have in the world; your best friends are the ones who stick beside you throughout everything – that’s what you have been to me. Not only a daughter, but my best friend. I don’t want you to cry because I’m gone, but smile because I am at peace and no longer in any kind of pain. You have been my rock throughout the last few years and I will forever be in your debt. There is an account I had set up with the bank when I was diagnosed – in it is a lot of money which I want you to have. I want you to go to University now that I am gone and that weight is lifted. Study your little heart out my angel and keep on keeping on. I know you will always be hurting but, if you can, I want you to smile for me. Smile that smile you used to smile when you told me everything was going to be okay. I want you to remember the good times, reflect on the bad and just carry on. I love you my sweetheart. Lots of love, always and forever, Dad xxx’
After Andie read the letter she fell back into the chair in tears. She realised that last night her father knew he was going to pass on but he tried as best he could not to let it out too much.
A short amount of time went on since her father’s death and the next thing Andie knew; she was planning his funeral and memorial. He knew many people and she wanted to acknowledge that in the planning. She used part of the money that her father left her, for university, for the funeral. It was beautiful and everyone Andie could remember being in her father’s life was there, as well as some she didn’t know. There were even some she thought had forgotten her father but they all wished her well and repeated the same word; ‘sorry’. Sorry was almost comforting at the funeral, but even as Andie smiled at the guests and thanked them for their time and consideration, she knew that it would never bring her father back. And that’s what broke her heart.
Time spun around Andie and, sooner than she wished, she was doing just as her father said and looking at University courses. Eventually Andie settled on studying a Bachelor of Psychology, an interest that her and her father had always shared. She was going to make him proud. Andie knew that this is what would be making her father smile down on her from now on. And that made her smile.
As the years passed on, and she became qualified, Andie, now nearly thirty, moved away from the town she had always known for a fresh start in one she barely knew. They say that time heals all wounds, and that is exactly what happened for Andie. She felt that she had her father’s blessing to move away, and even though he wasn’t physically there, she knew he was always going to be at her side, forever –in spirit.