The hospital room was lit up by the late summer sun and the sound of the families going to the circus just below the window made it sound like everything would be ok. I would always climb onto the window ledge and watch the parents being dragged into the massive tent by the children. I saw the children run around the fair after the circus, winning these dolls that I saw most of them hug. I would always ask my mother when we could go, but my parents would both exchange a look and always tell me, “maybe next week.” To this day I’ve still never been to the circus, I couldn’t go without my father, it wouldn’t be fair. He used to tell me that at night he could hear the performers leaving after all the audience had gone and he could hear them talking about their show, how the acrobat caught her hair on fire but managed to pull it off or how they lost control of the donkey and had to turn it into a comedy act. I know now he was just making it up to add some more light-hearted humour into our lives to take our minds off the reality that was going on.I was sitting at the end of the hospital bed, of course back then I didn’t understand what was happening.
I looked at him and kept on asking him to open my birthday presents with me, neither of us knowing this was the last chance we had. As he reached over to the table next to the bed for a card, I could see it took all the energy out of him but I couldn’t help but have a massive grin on my face. Clapping my hands together bouncing up and down as he handed me the birthday card while he was laughing at my excitement. I scanned through the card quickly pretending to read what he wrote to me just so I could get my present sooner. I shredded through the paper that was covering the gift, it was the doll I had wanted, the one I saw all the children play with outside the circus. I screamed and around the room holding it above my head and showing it to every nurse or doctor that came in. It was the happiest I had ever been.
My dying father giving me the doll I had wanted for so long when I was only four years old was the best memory I have of him. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor playing with that doll. It was the 5th October 2007, three days after my father’s birthday and a day before my mother’s. I was told that my father was supposed to come home for his and my mother’s birthday but no one had told me why he didn’t. My mother called me into her room, I quickly ran into her room but came to a sudden stop when I saw her face. I still didn’t know what was going on. “Poppy, I need to tell you something but I promise everything will be ok,” she softly stated as I clambered onto the bed, “daddy isn’t here anymore but he’s in the clouds watching down on you. He’s in a better place now.” She burst into tears. I still wasn’t completely sure what I had just been told so I just asked if I could go back and play with my doll. That night when I asked if my father was coming home the next day for my mother’s birthday, it hit me.
I was never going to see him again. I cried uncontrollably for the next week. No physical pain could be worse than the pain I was going through, finding out I would grow up without him.Twelve years later I laid on the carpet being comforted by the darkness, staring up at the ceiling, alone, with tears streaming down the sides of my cheeks. The memories of him were slowly disappearing over the years and I was afraid that soon there wouldn’t be any. I held the last thing he gave to me, the now very old and ragged doll, tightly against my face. I screamed but the jumper muffled the sound. I screamed to let out all the bottled feelings I’d had for the past twelve years. I screamed out of the frustration I had that I would never know what it was like to grow up without my father. It was the whole other half of me that I hardly knew.
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