From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV

Unbreakable Bond

My mother always told me that I was my “father’s daughter.” By that she meant that we looked alike and shared similar traits—Dad and I were both stocky, intellectual, quick-tempered and funny. Being the firstborn and only child for nearly seven years, I developed a strong bond with my father. We would rub each other’s feet and be goofy together, and he always told me that he loved me and that he was proud of my academic performance and artistic endeavors. We understood one another and sensed that we were always on each other’s side.

Dad had always been a healthy and energetic man. He had a big appetite, lifted weights and rarely got sick. With his dark hair, green eyes, olive complexion and round belly, he was an image of vigor and joviality. His temper, humor, outspokenness and hearty laugh made him a powerful presence.

Dad was diagnosed with hepatitis C during my freshman year of high school. Doctors told him he had contracted the liver-eating disease as a teenager and that it had lain dormant in his body up until then. The doctors also said Dad would need a liver transplant to survive.

Dad’s deterioration was rapid and heart-wrenching. His skin grew pale, he lost about seventy pounds, his physical activity was drastically restricted and his diet was altered. His barely functioning liver caused him to be in pain most of the time. Toward the end of Dad’s battle, the toxins produced by the liver caused encephalitis, which made him an incoherent insomniac who could barely control his own actions. He died on April 27, 1998. My grandfather died from cancer two months later, leaving my mom orphaned and widowed—and leaving me with only one parent and one grandparent.

I never thought I would be able to handle life without Dad. His death was a tragic event in my world—but it was not the end of it. I think about Dad every day, and I am still trying to work through my emotions three and a half years after the fact. Nonetheless, I have managed to go on with my life. Writing about his death is the ultimate testimony to that statement, because I have aspired to be a writer since I was a small child. I know that by actively pursuing my dream, I am doing what Dad wants me to be doing—I am going after what I want in life. It saddens me to think there are so many events that he did not and will not get to participate in; he never saw me graduate from high school, and he will not be there to walk my sister and me down the aisle when we get married. But even if he cannot be there physically, I know that he is always with me. Every beautiful sunset that I witness and every piece of good fortune that I am graced by reminds me that I have angels watching over me, and there is one in particular who is always whispering, “I’ll go wherever you will go.”

Lauren Fritsky

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