Close Call

Close Call

From Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Close Call

A few years ago, my mom went to the doctor to ask him about her neck. “Lately it’s been a little swollen,” she told him. He looked at her and then told her she needed to see a hematologist. It turned out there was something wrong with her lymph glands, and she would have to have a biopsy. Soon they had scheduled her for surgery on the seventh of September.

As soon as I found out, I was furious. September 7 is my birthday. I screamed and yelled at her and everyone else, too. I even yelled at the dog. I started begging her to reschedule. She gave me this look like she was about to cry and said, “I’m sorry, but I’ve done everything I can. There’s nothing else I can do.” Finally, I just yelled, “I hate you!” and ran into my room, crying. I sat on my bed thinking, Why do things always have to happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? I didn’t even think about how my mom, the one who was actually going to get cut open, was feeling.

For the next couple weeks, all I did was sulk. Deep down I knew I shouldn’t act that way, but I did anyway. Anyone could see how miserable I was making my mom. I knew it wasn’t her fault, but I had to have someone to blame.

Finally, my birthday came. My parents left early in the morning for the hospital in Salt Lake City, and my aunt came to look after my brother and me. All day we played games, opened presents and had a picnic in the yard. Everyone pretended to have fun, but the tension in the air was as thick as peanut butter, and you could tell no one was really having a good time. This isn’t fair, I thought. This was supposed to be my day.

My parents came home late that night. My mom walked in with a bandage on her neck. She sat down and rested her head on my dad’s shoulder. It hurt so badly, she couldn’t even talk. My dad had to tell us what had happened. They had left the hospital all right, but after they had driven for just half an hour, the car broke down. My mom had to sit in a cold car while my dad walked to get help.

Later that night, Mom was in her room. She pulled out a bag and handed it to me. It was my birthday present, a Walkman.

“I’m sorry it’s not wrapped,” she said in a quiet, raspy voice. “And we didn’t have time to get batteries, but I’ll get some soon.”

“Thank you,” I said. That was all I could say.

About a week later the doctor called. It turned out that my mother’s condition was nothing serious. Everyone seemed relieved. Later my dad told me that the doctors had thought she might have cancer. I couldn’t believe it. My legs turned to Jell-O, and I had to sit down. Even though I knew she was all right, when I thought of what I had said and done, I felt sick. If she had gotten cancer, nothing in our lives would have ever been the same.

Less than a year later, my dad’s cousin, Nathan, was diagnosed with cancer. He had four kids and his wife was about to have another. He stayed alive just long enough to see his new baby’s birth, and then he died. Now his son will never be able to see or know his dad.

It’s scary to think how close I was to having the same thing happen to me and how selfish I had been. I will always regret the things I said. It is really true that you don’t appreciate something until you come close to losing it.

Diana Parker, age 12

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