February 2, 2000
I am fourteen years old, and this was an assignment for my English
class. We were told to write about a time when we had to say goodbye.
This is my recollection.
--- Copyright © 1999 Lucy Novario, Age 14
Goodbye. It is not actually spoken but it is haphazardly the only
thing on my mind. The cold plain waiting room of the hospital was very
discomforting, but the door leading into the room is comforting to me.
It is the only barrier between me and the unavoidable impression of
The chair underneath me seems like the only object
that can hold me up while my shoulders droop to the ground and my head
rests on my chest. I am offered comfort, but how can I be helped when I
am unsure of the problem? Red faces, ruined tissues, and wet eyes on
strangers' faces are the normality now. I am no longer frightened to
see my father cry, or my grandfather.
My 7-year old fingers are like
that of an irate pianist, forcefully banging my fingers on everything
within reach, to a certain tempo only steady in my own racing mind. I
feel like a tiny mouse, lost in her own maze of confusion and chaos. My
footsteps are tiny, like a skeptical kitten, and fear is visibly written
across my pale face. Grownups in white coats concealing their fatigued
physiques coax me into the room, but I am too afraid to go alone.
For a minute my feet are a part of the hospital's foundation, unable to
progress. My mother, with her heart on her sleeve, comes out and uses
her benevolence and familiar face, although dramatically changed by the
lack of sleep and tears, to convince me that all would be right.
My mother grabs my hand and for once it feels stable in her shaking grip.
As my mother reaches for the door, I puff out my chest like a brave
lion, only I have no courage inside at all. The door swings open, and
the stale air from the room rushes over me like a tidal wave.
The first aspect I noticed about the room was how bright it was although the
process of death was being completed inside. The white walls were bare
and the television was on. The 5-o'clock news perfectly depicted the
tragedy inside the room. On the wooden table next to the bed was a
half-full glass of water. The majority of the room would have said half
empty by the outlook they felt towards the future outcome of the
My grandfather was standing next to the bed. He used to be a
bear, showing no emotions, but I found him now to always have red eyes.
The wrinkles I had always found to be calming on his face were now
deepened into his skin until he was almost unrecognizable. There were
no voices to drone out the soft muffle of the television, except for the
small frail voice of my ill grandmother. She was beckoning for me to
come forward, and I noticed how her skin drooped from her bones on her
forearm. Surprisingly, her voice was somewhat of a consolation to me.
I grabbed her outstretched finger and I felt like it would break if I
forced any pressure on it. I quickly drew my arm back, only to become
ashamed. I walked towards this smiling living skeleton, but I couldn't
look in her eyes.
The first time she smiled at me was the first time since she had been sick
that I had noticed the toll cancer had taken on her body. The rich brown color
of her eyes was not sparkling anymore and was now dull. Her shining chestnut
colored hair that I had grown so accustomed to was only a small tuft of gloomy
grayish-brown fluff. The pain was so evident in her eyes that I had to wince also.
As she pulled me closer using all of the strength she had left in her body, she
whispered in my ear with her raspy voice, "I love you." And, at that
moment, all of my courage returned to me, and I leaned in and kissed her
taut cheek. Then, I summoned up everything I had left in me and
whispered in her ear," I am going to miss you. I love you."
that, my final words were spoken to her. And it was palpable what we
were doing at that moment, saying our final goodbyes.