Author: ragdollwriters PM
Before this story began, we were two independant girls that thought nothing of affection. Now, best friends in high school, we know what heart break really feels like. These are real events documented by the characters themselves. We hope you can learn from our experience as we did. Enjoy.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Friendship - Chapters: 37 - Words: 106,072 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 11-26-12 - Published: 08-11-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3049737
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Ch. 16- No Curtain Call
My dad has cancer.
Pardon me, I'm getting a little ahead of myself.
After April 7th, the night of the UIL competition, I stayed as far from James Luther as possible. I focused on my religious studies, as my Confirmation was only a couple weeks away. It was, ironically, also the anniversary of when I was cursed with my wildly out of control emotions for James Luther. I tried to make it all about my religion. My faith. What I'd been learning all these years in Catechism class.
When I was finally confirmed, I felt the Lord give me His blessing. His blessing to pursue my future. To move forward and become something great. To spread the word of God through what I loved to do best- writing.
The saint I chose was St. Lucia. Patron saint of blindness, eye trouble, but also authors. Since she was the only female saint for authors I could find, I chose her,
Her story was interesting as well...she had devoted her life to God, but a selfish man that loved her for her youth and her beautiful eyes demanded that she marry him. In a desperate attempt to get him to leave him alone, she gouged out her own eyes and sent them to him, saying he could keep the eyes he was so fond of, but she was devoted to Christ.
The psycho tracked her down and killed her with a knife to the chest.
Tragic ending, but it's real. I felt connected to St. Lucy, and from that night, I never took off the necklace with her image on it that I was given as a gift from my sponsor (my Aunt Lilah). It meant a lot to me. It was a symbol of my future, and my connection to the Lord. Wearing it made me feel safe.
I'm glad that night was so happy. Because from there, everything went downhill.
My dad started having pains in his side. They grew unbearable, and he was eventually taken to the hospital. I didn't worry too much at first, knowing that he'd been having trouble with his gallbladder, and that it would soon be removed.
He spent more and more time at the hospital, my mom taking time off from teaching to stay with him overnights and throughout the day. The doctors suddenly didn't have answers.
I grew more nervous each day. Spending all my time with my grandparents, no schedule, no idea of what was going to happen next. That was my worst nightmare, not having a plan.
I began to have separation anxiety, from my parents and from my home. Upon realizing that my sister was the only connection I had to normal life, I refused to be anywhere without her except school, which also held some hint of normalcy.
Teachers came by to check on me. Friends of my mother, who were like aunts and uncles to me, refused to leave me by myself at any time. I became irate with my classmates, testing the patience of even my closest friends like Roxy, Jackie, and Nicki with my temper. But I also held on tighter to them, because they were the only ones that understood to me, silence was strength, and when things went wrong, I just shut up about it.
Finally my sister and I got to go home for one night. We spent the whole time together, all four of us, which was rare since dad was usually at work.
I was supposed to study. I had projects to finish. But I didn't want to waste a second away from my family. There had been to much separation already.
The morning after, my parents had to go to another hospital. Supposedly a center for research. I had lost all confidence in medical practitioners by then, and simply muttered an 'okay' when they said the day would be a bit crazy again.
The plan was to drop my sister off, then me, and then they would go run some errands before my dad's appointment.
But when I saw my little sister bounce happily out of the car, her oversized backpack bobbing on her small body, I lost it. The control I hold onto so tightly was my only defense against the hundreds of people in the world that will pretend to care, but never actually do. If you could avoid them and never show weakness, they wouldn't catch you when you were vulnerable...make you believe they cared...and then ruin you.
That was the adult in me speaking. But all of the sudden I was a little girl again, dreading the first day of school, the moment my mommy and daddy would leave me at the big scary school with all the mean kids that didn't like me. Mommy and daddy were the safest place in the world. Safer than home. Safer than church.
Safer than curled up on a bus in the middle of the night behind James Luther and his soothing voice.
I cried. For the first time in a long time, I cried until my body couldn't take the shuddering breaths and wracking sobs.
My parents immediately pulled over, getting out to climb in the back seat.
It sounds strange, but Marie Aimsworth in tears was a monumental occasion. Something that must be handled with the utmost care.
They held me in their arms, telling me that I didn't have to go to school, I could go with them. We didn't have to separated again.
This was the best news I'd heard all week. Spending the whole week with mom and dad doesn't sound fun to normal teenagers, but after being away from my family and my own home for far too long for my taste, I welcomed the occasion.
We traveled from place to place, eventually meeting up with my Aunt Lilah, who'd come to town to see me crown the Virgin Mary in church.
That weekend was the Annual May Crowning ceremony at church. The ceremony had been going on for over a hundred years in our parish, and the purpose the royal court served was to present the chosen students from the classes that had gone through a rite of passage that year, and have them crown the Virgin Mary statues with their pure and youthful hands. The princesses and their escorts (little boys that helped them up and down steps) were chosen from the second grade Catechism class that has their First Communion. The princesses carried the two crowns- one for the statue of the Virgin Mary outside in the grotto, and one for the one inside by the alter- for the queens, which there were usually two of, but this year there was only one. Me.
The queen was selected from the Confirming class of tenth graders. Two boys, two girls. This year, one girl, two boys.
I was slightly nervous about crowning the Virgin Mary. There were certain steps the queen had to take (other than the ones leading up to the pedestals the statues were on), and if I fell or dropped the crown, I'm sure I would've been burnt at the stake right then and there. But I considered it an honor and looked forward to it. I just hoped my period didn't show up that day while I was wearing my white Confirmation suit.
So that's all I thought about that Friday. The honor of crowning the Virgin Mary. There was too much on my mind to give a single crap about James, so he was far from my thoughts.
Mostly I was concerned for my dad, who that afternoon came back to my grandparent's house (which was by that time filled with our relatives) with my mom teary eyed and solemn.
They led me and my sister, breathless and jubilant after playing with our cousins and having a lovely time with our family, out to the patio beyond my grandmother's house. This patio held a lot of my childhood memories. Being so small, and drinking the illicit diet coke with my grandmother after she finished her yard work.
Standing on chairs to avoid the slobbering of my grandmother's long dead companion, a sheep dog named Jack. Running through the shade, stepping over overgrown plants to get to the swing set outside that had once been a rocket ship, a castle, my first playground...
And now this patio has a new memory. One of my family huddled together, all four of us crying for the first time, at the same time. A memory of the words "Your dad has cancer" being spoken and no one knowing what to say afterward.
A memory that taught me strong people are the ones that cry first, because they don't care about weaknesses or distrust, and if it comes to having to protect themselves, they know they have a family full of wonderful people behind them that make it their job to protect you. To love you.
"Hail Mary, full of grace..."
She is full of grace, I thought to myself as I raised the wreath of flowers above the head of the stone statue on the last Hail Mary. I tried to concentrate on thanking Mary for her motherly love and protection, but the word cancer had been drowning all my thoughts since Friday.
The heartfelt condolences of my church family rang in my ears. I didn't want anyone to apologize for it, I wanted someone to fix it. I hadn't smiled since I heard the words. I hadn't tasted a single one of my meals since then. I couldn't look anyone in the eyes...
I'm sure the coordinators of the Crowning ceremony must've thought my confirmation teacher was on crack when he chose me, because I looked like every other sulky teenager with my angry eyes and sulking shoulders.
I didn't care what people thought or whether they were "sorry" for what was going on. I just didn't care. Period.
It hadn't occurred to me just yet that there was in fact a miracle worker living under my roof.
Living under everyone's roof, actually.
God was the only one you can turn to in a time like this. And I didn't realize that until the doors to the church opened for me and my escorts. My little princesses with their praying hands holding the last crown.
Once my feet hit the carpet of the church's floor, I was overwhelmed with a sense of belonging.
Every anxious feeling in me was swept away by the current of the Lord's protection. I'd felt this feeling on Sunday mornings before, especially after particularly difficult weeks. But this was different. This was the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit holding my hands and leading me down the isle to the alter.
And then, as if the crowning had given me a special connection with the Virgin Mary Herself, I felt a surge of relief flood into me, sent by some Holy presence.
Everything's going to be okay.
Suddenly I was breathless. Breathless, and cured of any bad feelings. The words themselves were not spoken, but the message was clear.
This was a test. God was telling me, me of all people, that my dad's ailment was a test. It was a bridge we had to go across, and we'd come out on the other end the same way we went on, but stronger. He told me all of this with a few simple words.
So I made my way down that isle with a look of wonder on my face, and a smile as bright as the sun by the time I reached the alter.
My family, who had witnessed me fall into a depression the past couple of days, were looking confused but proud as I crowned the second Virgin Mary statue, holding onto the steady arms of my escorts with trembling hands as I stepped down with the relieved grin still in place.
Everything was going to be okay.
These were words of truth spoken directly into my heart.
No one could've reassured me more effectively than Christ Himself. He was the embodiment of truth, and it was all I could do to keep from running straight from the alter to my family to tell them that this was a test, we were going to be alright, and no one could ever separate us.
God said so.
It was hard telling my friends. I called Jackie. She told me that everything was going to be fine, she just knew it. And I believed it as much as I believed it when I heard it in the church.
Things would've been fine, everything would've panned out the right way if I didn't have to go back into the real world. Where our family is separated by doctor's appointments and I have to go to school with people who don't understand.
God said things were going to be fine, not easy.
So that last week of school, I pushed through the crap, recognizing an obstacle in the way of my faith and stepping around it.
It wasn't until the day before the AP test that the stress and grief crashed down on me as our English teacher announced that she would be leaving colloquium, and possibly the district.
After an emotional group hug with our teary eyed teacher, I lost my senses and broke into tears.
Nicki, sitting frozen beside me, didn't offer the ridiculous pats on the back or silly "sshh"s and "it's going to be okay"s. She simply watched as I buried my face in my hands and choked out,
"My dad has cancer."
I said it several more times, washing out the taste of the grief that has become stagnant in my stomach, never revealing itself. I shuddered and wiped at the tears, coming to realize that people were staring.
They were whispering things, and I didn't want to hear them. I was crying for the third time in a record short four days, and I was finally going to be done with this bottling nonsense. But I couldn't handle the staring,
I ran out of the room, escaping to the stairwell I used to hide away in when my mom worked in this building. I'd listen to music and daydream in the empty halls.
But now the stairwell was filled with the noise of my sobbing. Eventually Jackie appeared beside me, wrapping an arm around my shoulder and not saying anything.
When I could speak, I told her only facts. I refused to complain about feeling alone or in pain. I would use facts to explain my feelings from now on.
I told her about the PET scans and the possibility of removing the cancer surgically. I rambled about facts and evidence and truth until I could stand, after which I gathered my purse from the classroom to repair my damaged make-up job in the mirror.
I promised myself that I wouldn't cry like that again. I wouldn't burst into tears every time I thought I couldn't handle something. No, this was a test of strength, and I would come out even stronger in the end. Hand in hand with my family.
And I would use the words God gave me to make sure my family did the same.