I wrote this for a scholarship as an essay, but I see it more as a story.
| Kathryne Mattingly
A mother lays silent with her daughter, trembling hand still lying on the phone receiver, the phone call that will change their lives forever. "Mommy, when is daddy coming home? Doesn't he love us anymore?" It was the question she could never answer. Anyway, the truth-the hopes for a better life for herself and her daughter- was something she wouldn't understand for a long time. The phone call from the hospital didn't come as a shock to the woman who had loved a man who didn't deserve what she had given him, a beautiful little girl; she sadly had always expected this to happen. The day he finally learned his lesson he had no more mistakes to make.
Alcohol's harsh side-effects would never be near the little girl again. She promised herself every day that the toll that had been taken on her daughter's youth would go nowhere but up after she left the only man she ever loved. The band aids placed by an innocent child on her mother's foot the night the glass pan was thrown across the room was the evidence for a need of change; change that might save both their lives. Every second that passed after each flashback of a moment of useless abuse made her hate herself that much more for not leaving sooner.
At the hospital she sits with the loved ones that sat speechless. He had the habits of an intoxicated driver since anyone had known him, and at age 26 his lifestyle had done more than ruin his life. The look on his little girl's face when her mother told her that her daddy was never coming back was the worst thing that had ever happened because of that man's life, and he wasn't even there to catch the sudden streams of tears that fell from his baby girl's innocent green eyes.
The man who had broken the only heart that mattered was now a paraplegic. To the girl he was much like one of her baby dolls that had to be fed and changed. She would have a conversation with her daddy but have to speak both parts. Even in her four year old mind she kept asking "Why? Why did this happen to Daddy?" Over the next couple of years there would be arguments and other unimportant disagreements that put the little girl in the middle. She would watch her father sit in his wheelchair and wonder why they were both being forced to suffer. She matured faster than she was ever supposed to and still so young in other ways. A child should never be forced to carry around such a sad burden. The choices of her favorite man had now made him the stupidest man. She only wishes he would have made choices for her.
Nine years and eleven days after her father wrecked his truck along with the life of the little girl, he died. The girl is sad and relieved, relieved that her father no longer has to suffer but sad because now there is no miracle that can heal him. She sits in the pew watching much of the same people that came to the hospital and listened to the great things people had to say about her father. Sure funerals are for celebrating a life and everyone is supposed to say great things about a person, but what about the truth? What about him leaving a family behind because he was so selfish?
To think that a child went through and overcame the obstacles in a childhood like this one created is devastating ,but for this little girl it was mine. The hardest part of this whole thing is watching my little brother, who was one at the time of the accident, sobs because he was never able to meet him. I met him, loved him, and dealt with the aftermath of his life. Maybe my brother is the lucky one, I think from time to time. Although, my brother doesn't even remember my father and still sits in pain because of his mistakes. In all reality, my father is the lucky one. He got to leave this world with all the messes he refused to clean up. He didn't have to sit and watch me cry over him like my mother did. He didn't have to sit and watch his family bury his body like our friends did. He didn't have to pick up the pieces of my broken heart as my mother told me he was never going to get well. Leaving was his biggest mistake.
The most evident lesson I have learned from this tragedy is that drinking kills lives beyond the deceased. I refuse to ever let alcohol become a necessity and take over my entire life like he did. Every time I hear about a drunk-driving accident, I cringe. I wonder how people could be so ignorant to the effects this behavior causes, but then I remember that I only know because of my childhood. For that I am thankful, because without this incident I might be just as ignorant as everyone else. I will also work hard to have a handle on my life to where I don't have a reason to run from my mistakes. You could say that my father has made me a better person, but I would never give him that much credit. My father has made an impact on my life that is truly unforgettable, but his mistake does not define me.