The Boy

Autobiography written by boneyg on Thursday 18, February 2021

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I'm 46 and have recently decided to go back to school. This is a memoir I had to write for my writing class. I haven't written anything for a very long time so I thought I'd post it here in hopes of getting some feedback. I understand it could have used more detail but unfortunately I was working with a page restriction.

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“The Boy” On January 25, 2000, I pulled into the babysitter’s driveway shortly before 6 p.m. Driving far too fast, with music playing much too loud…I was late again. It was a bitterly cold night, but not unexpected considering the time of year. I was there to pick up my 3-year-old daughter, Alexis and my 16-month-old son, Garret. I exited the vehicle with urgency, leaving the car idling as I hurried to the door, clouds of smoke filled the air in front of my face with every exhale, while reciting the excuse I planned to give her to explain why I could not make it at the agreed upon time of 5 p.m. The babysitters name was Lori. She had been friends with my wife since grade school and was typically very forgiving whenever my wife or myself were late to pick up the kids. She loved our children very much and seemed not to treat them any differently than she treated her own son. As I reached for the handle of the screen door, the inner door opened and there stood the babysitter with a blank look on her face that I initially mistook as anger. “Hey, Lori. Sorry I’m late.” I said as she stepped to the side, allowing me entrance to the house. Once inside I scanned the living room, normally, my children would be all bundled up and waiting in the living room, ready to go but tonight the living room was empty with the exception of Lori and myself. “Where are the kids?” I asked while turning to look at her. She still stood staring blankly at me but this time I could see it was not anger, it was sadness in her reddened eyes. “Are you okay?” “I put the kids down for a nap and when I went to check on them, baby Garret wasn’t breathing.” She struggled with the last few words as tears began to fall from her eyes. “What?” I asked, not fully accepting what I had just heard. She took a moment to gather herself as best she could then began to explain to me that the paramedics had worked on him in the house for a short time before putting him into the ambulance and hurrying him to the hospital shortly before I arrived. She also informed me that her husband, Aaron was already at the hospital and my wife, Lisa was on her way there now. I stood listening in disbelief and looking around the room as she recounted the events that had transpired before my arrival. In my haste to come up with a good excuse to explain away my irresponsibility for being late, I failed to notice all the details that were now coming into focus. Assuming she was upset that I was late, I failed to realize it was not anger in her stare, rather she had the look of a person who was lost and very scared. I could now recall that her eyes were red and puffy. She had obviously been crying. Tubes and breathing apparatuses lay on the living room floor, no doubt left behind by the paramedics as they rushed my little boy to the ambulance. Suddenly, all was silent save for the sounds of my own labored breaths and the muffled thumping of the bass coming from the driveway. I do not remember leaving Lori’s house. I only remember driving in silence to the hospital, no more music, just my thoughts. Trying to bring some sort of understanding as to how this could happen while at the same time quietly begging God and pleading with him to spare my son and take me. “I don’t want to be here anymore, Lord. Please!” The trip from the babysitters to the hospital was less than a ten-minute drive but it felt like an eternity. I sat in the car for a few minutes after I had arrived at the emergency room parking lot. This was not the first time I had made this trip to the emergency room for my son. There were complications with the pregnancy, labor had to be induced a month or so before his due date. My wife was not producing enough amniotic fluid, so he had to be delivered immediately. He had always had troubles with his breathing and had made multiple trips to the emergency room. Once, he stayed for a week in a breathing tent, but we never felt like he was in danger of not recovering. My mind kept returning to that look on Lori’s face…that look, that to this day remains burned into my memory. It told me that this time was different, and because of that, I was afraid to walk into that waiting room. I waited a moment or two longer before finally emerging from my vehicle into that cold winter air and making my way across the parking lot, through the sliding glass doors and eventually to the waiting room. Long glass panels flanked each side of the waiting rooms wooden door, I peered through the panel to the left of the door and saw my wife standing with her arms crossed, next to her mother, father, and younger sister. All four of their faces painted thick with misery. I also spied Aaron, Lori’s husband, solemnly sitting alone in the chair closest to the door at which I stood. His face bore no expression as he stared at nothing, almost looking as though he was unaware anyone else were in the room with him. Taking a deep breath, I pushed open the door and entered the room. All eyes immediately shifted to me except for Aarons, he remained lost in a different place, still staring at the nothingness in front of him. As I made my way passed all the empty chairs to my wife and her family, her father grabbed me in a strong embrace, I could see he had been crying. At 6’3 I towered over her father who stood at a modest 5’8, but he had always been a very imposing figure in my life. Seeing this man who had always been so stoic, crying as we held one another, told me all I needed to know about the situation. This was bad…really, bad. There would be no happy ending on this night. Minutes passed like hours as we waited for someone to come tell us something; anything, but no one came. I could not take it anymore, leaning into my wife I whispered, “I gotta call my dad.” “Okay,” she replied, “but don’t be gone long.” “I won’t.” I said as I kissed her on the forehead. “Everything is going to be alright.” Though you may be in your mid-twenties, you are never too old to need your dad, and I needed mine to reassure me that everything was going to be alright. I went out to the car to have a bit of privacy. The first thing my dad said when he answered the phone was, “How’s the boy?” My son was the first grandson born to my parents after five granddaughters. My dad began referring to him as “The Boy” shortly after he was born. “Where’s The Boy?” “You got The Boy with ya?” “Bring The Boy in here.” It is a nickname that stuck with him throughout his short time here and remains to this day what many of my family members say when speaking of him. “They’re still trying to get him to breath.” I said, my voice cracking a bit as my emotions finally began to betray me. “I’m scared, dad.” “Listen to me!” He said in a firm but gentle tone, “Children are resilient. Everyday is a fight for them, don’t give up on him.” I do not know exactly how long we talked, but my father had a way of calming me down, to the point where I began to feel good about how things would turn out. That was about the time that the knock on the driver’s side window came and crushed all the hope that I had left. The hospital Chaplin stood alongside my wife. Steam rose from the tears that cascaded down her face in the cold air. “No!” I cried out. My wife just shook her head slowly and looked away as the Chaplain reached out to embrace her. Alarmed, my dad called out through the phone, “What is it!” All strength left me as my upper body slouched over, falling face first onto the passenger seat. Continuing to clutch the phone tightly to my ear, my father spoke words that I could no longer make sense of. My mouth opened, releasing all the pain that had been growing since leaving the babysitters. “He died, dad!” I bellowed, unable to control the volume of my emotions. I remember the fear in his voice as he asked me repeatedly if someone was there with me, nearly begging me to answer him. “Yes. Lisa and the Chaplain.” “Go with them.” He pleaded, “Please; just go.” “Okay.” I said softly and hung up the phone. My wife and I held each other close as the Chaplain lead us back inside the hospital to the room where our son was. The nurse opened the door and lead us to his side. I am unsure what horrors I expected to see when we entered the room, but it was not this. He laid there so peacefully. His skin may have been slightly more pale than usual, but he was a redhead, so he was always pale. His face was not purple, it also was not filled with color, but it was fine. He was sleeping, but at the same time; he wasn’t. I reached down and took his tiny hand into mine and caressed it with my thumb for a moment. “Can I hold him?” I asked the nurse. “Yes.” I cannot tell you how long I stood holding my son for the final time, but I can tell you it was not long enough. Though tears were rolling down my face, it felt so good to have him in my arms again. I talked to him, told him how much I loved him, and apologized many times. I was not sure I had the strength to ever put him down and walk away, but I knew I must. One last kiss on the forehead. One last “Daddy loves you, little guy.” One last look back before leaving. January 25, 2000, changed both myself as well as my now ex-wife in ways neither of us could have known at the time. That night changed everything.
   

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Comments

    Okay, you want some feedback? Here you go.

    This is autobiographical, correct? The problem with it is is that you are still to close to this tragedy to do a good writing. It still tears at your heart. There is nothing wrong with that, but your emotions overcome the part of your mind that you need to write an accurate, effective narrative. This writing would be a good start, and, when the healing process has begun, you could revisit this. For example:

    "Once inside I scanned the living room, normally, my children would be all bundled up and waiting in the living room, ready to go but tonight the living room was empty with the exception of Lori and myself. "

    This is a complex sentence which is very poorly constructed. I suspect, when you wrote it, grief was beginning to reassert itself, and that grief and sadness effects the remainder of the writing. You have a lot of bad sentences, and I would not be the least bit surprised if you were crying as you wrote them.

    You have my sympathy. One cannot measure, in any degree, the pain parents feel when they lose a child. The healing takes a very long time. I would, after a suitable time, revisit this.

    God bless.