It was a Thursday morning, around 6:30 AM. I was jolted awake by the hellish scream of ambulance sirens. Footsteps echoed past my bedroom through the narrow hallway. I heard the familiar voice of Kathy, one of the members of the local law enforcement. Why was she here? As I pondered the questions forming in my head and trying to think of logical answers to keep my mind at ease, I heard the mournful sound of my mother sobbing. I summoned the courage to leave my room to investigate the possible tragic events. I tried to show no emotion and used my excuse of "looking for something to eat" as a ploy to hide the dismay and chaos that was erupting inside of my maddened mind. With my father owning the title of Fire Department Chief, I had become acquainted with most of the local EMTS, which was fine until they showed up at my house equipped with an ambulance and a gurney. As I stepped out of the professionals' path to my parent's bedroom, a body numbing question was forced into my lost brain: "Where is Dad?"
As fear entered my mind taking my train of thought through a dark and dreadful ghetto of horrible thoughts and images and the panic-striking my brain that was controlling my body, I returned to my room to gather my feelings. As I returned to my room, I noticed my oldest sister, Sierra, had quietly come upstairs and followed me to my room having the same feelings as me. As my dread-ridden sister embraced me in a tight sorrowful hug, she whispered in my ear and said: "I think he is having a stroke." Questions raced through my head, filling it once again with horrific topics I did not want to discuss.
The responders were struggling to fit the gurney through the small corridor, forcing my sister and me to remain confined to my seemingly shrinking room. Once the responders had collected my father and taken him out of the house, my sister and I were free, so we tracked down our mother and found her talking to one of the EMTs with tears in her eyes. Once she had finished conversing with the man, she turned to us and with a monotone voice, she explained that our father had endured a Grand Mal seizure. She had instructed us to tell our three younger siblings to walk down the street to our unknowing Grandmother's house. My mother suddenly became flustered with emotions as she began to pack clothes and other necessities for an overnight trip. My sister and I did the same and within minutes we were leaving the house the same time as the ambulance. Throughout the commotion and the busy-ness of packing, I was not informed about the details of my father's whereabouts, so I was left to ponder the repetitive question. "Where is Dad?"
The ambulance had disappeared from my, now empty, house with its lights ablaze and its sirens proclaiming the emergent situation through its high-pitched scream. This made the vehicle easy to follow through the traffic of Interstate 80 to the Evanston Hospital emergency room. My mother was driving well over the speed limit and sobbing. My sister tried to comfort her, but she could not stop the flood of tears streaming down her worrying face. I could feel the sadness seeping from my mother and sister throughout the grueling forty-five-minute drive. Once we had arrived at the Hospital, the three of us ran into the emergency room waiting area. A nurse had informed us that he would be receiving a CT scan to reveal the culprit responsible for causing the seizure. They allowed our mother to accompany our father, so she left us in the empty and silent room. My sister and I sat in the room completely void of sound until the sound of footsteps echoed from the hallway to the right of us. A familiar man entered the room. It was Bob, one of the Evanston's emergency responders. We had grown up knowing Bob, his presence brought some comfort mostly because he offered us chocolate chip cookies and the option of milk or water.
An hour had slowly ticked by while we sat in the dismal room when a nurse quietly strolled in. She said that we can see our father and gave us a beckoning motion with her hands. She was so quick we could not keep up with her and she had soon disappeared around a corner leaving us lost. We wandered the long and quiet halls in search of someone that could have the answer to the same haunting question. "Where is Dad?" After what had seemed like an eternity, our minds were put to ease by the serenade of my father's laugh. We ran towards the relieving sound and found him behind a curtain laying on a bed surrounded by his colleagues. He motioned us towards him and embraced us in a hug that would have been uncomfortable, given the awkward position that he was in, but the embrace was one that I would never forget. A hug that was derived from pure and unconditional love.
Dr. Lauchemer had informed us that he believes that the seizure was caused by a calcification of the right temporal lobe of his brain. He suggested that we have my father transported to the Huntsman Cancer Institute, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, via helicopter. My father decided against the doctor's judgment of transportation and thought that it would be better to ride in an ambulance. Respecting his wishes, the Doctor arranged for the ambulance to take him to the institute. Telling us that we would have to wait for the ambulance he left the room leaving us time to talk to our father. He said that he had torn his left acromion tuberosity from his shoulder during his seizure. He bragged saying "When I flex my muscles, I break bones." After thirty minutes of laughter and joy, the ambulance arrived and my father was collected into the vehicle. My mother had decided to ride in the ambulance down the University and left us at the Evanston Hospital and told us to wait for my grandmother to pick us up and take us to the Cancer Institute.
My grandmother had picked us up and we set off to Utah. By this time it was about 10 o'clock in the morning. I was so exhausted that I immediately fell asleep when I entered her car. The next thing I remember was waking up in the parking lot of our destination. When we found the room that housed my father we met a nurse, waiting outside his door. She informed us that they had performed an MRI to see if he had any more problems other than the seizure. We entered the room and sat near his bed and watched as he fell in and out of a drug-induced sleep. Finally, he had gained enough energy to remain awake. I could tell that he was scared and had something to tell us, but I could not translate the worried expression his face into words. After the nurse had given him a sip of water, he called us to his bedside and gave us his warm embraced and whispered: "I have brain cancer." With tears rolling down my face I hugged my father as if it were the last time.
I have learned from this experience that family is the most important thing on this planet and that we need to spend as much time as possible with them because you never know what tragedies can befall a family. When the time comes to take us or a loved one very little mercy is shown. So love your family and the ones you have grown close too. I hope you never have to ask the question "Where is Dad?