Wednesday, October 14, 2009

11-Year-Old Boy Tries to Save his Father

Erik told me about his dad, Hayden, when we first started dating. We were both 20, both students at Florida State University. Erik majored in computer science while I studied creative writing. Within days of knowing one another, it was obvious that Erik's rational, organized side would compliment the artist in me.

Erik spoke slowly, with quiet intensity. “We were on vacation.”

I sat cross-legged, on Erik's bedroom floor, soaking in the masculine whisper of his words. My attention was focused entirely on him.

He stretched out on his back and put his head in my lap, his eyes directed at the circulating ceiling fan. “We were on vacation, at the beach . . . I was eleven. It was just me, my mom, and my dad. My dad had brought me out windsurfing for the first time. I kept falling off the board.”

He laughed, more to himself than me. “It was a really great day.”

“Sounds like it.” I kissed Erik’s forehead where the peach-colored candelight reflected off of his skin.

“They had just come back from a walk . . . my mom and dad . . . and I was digging a big hole in the sand.”

Erik closed his eyes, pausing for a few seconds, like he was there, like he was re-living that day. “My dad sat down in his chair and then he . . . he just . . . he just fell over in his chair. He just fell over in his chair. Out of nowhere. He just fell over . . . right near the hole I was digging. He wasn’t breathing.”

“I can’t even imagine.” I ran my fingers through Erik’s thick black hair. “I can’t even imagine.”

“My mom lost it . . . she told me to run for help . . . so I did. I ran as fast as I could. My legs were burning."

I saw Erik in my mind—this innocent, dark-haired little boy running as fast as he can, fine grains of white spitting up all over everyone’s beach blankets. He’s running and screaming, looking for help, not knowing what else to do.

"My mom was hysterical. She already had one husband die of a heart attack, but I . . . I did the best I could. I couldn't have run any faster."

"Of course not."

"It was Miami, you know, so I was able to find a doctor right away, but it didn't matter."

"You did everything you could do."

"My dad was turning blue. Nothing worked. They were pounding on his chest."

I wanted to help that little, out-of-breath, 11-year-old Erik. I wanted him to know he had run fast enough. That it wasn't his fault.

Erik started to cry. "It was supposed to be our vacation. I just wanted him to sit back up in his chair."

But his dad never did sit back up in that chair, and Erik spent the rest of his life wondering if his father would still be alive if he had just run a little faster.

4 comments:

  1. That's awful. What a tragedy for a little boy to have to deal with. Keep writing...your publisher is out there right now...waiting for you...and will show himself (or herself) when the time is right!!

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  2. Wow. That's so sad for him. He must have been terrified.
    On a brighter note, I bet you got A's in your creative writing classes, because you definitely CAN tell a story and make it come to life! Keep writing...I will buy all of your books!!XOXO

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  3. Tragic is correct... no child, or anyone else for that matter should have to witness and then live with memories of such a loss. But you both have experienced it...First Erik and his father and now you and Erik. I truley believe GOD has a plan for you. You keep writing what is in your heart. Your words will end up in front of the person that GOD intended to hear them... Remember "all in GOD's time not ours"

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  4. What irony in this piece. Tragic irony that you are transforming into something magnificent. I thank God for you and your wisdom and most of all for your indelible warrior spirit.

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