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by Lara Alderman, Grade 12

Drawing by Aeawosgi Campos A flame glowed in our fireplace in a suburb of New Jersey as my brother and I watched Scooby Doo. My Daddy started coughing and he went into the kitchen. My Mommy rushed home from the supermarket and joined him. My Nana told me to sit with her and Grandpa on our fading couch. I watched the men carry my Daddy away on a stretcher, a starched white blanket covering his body. I told my crying Nana not to worry because everything would be okay. My Daddy never came home.
• • •
I don't know when I discovered who God was but I was mad at Him. I never really understood why God took my Daddy away from me so whenever I prayed I asked, "Why?" I expected God to talk to me, to hear a voice in my head, the way it had happened in the Bible stories my mother told me. I never heard any voice. I'd concentrate so hard my forehead wrinkled and my nose scrunched up as I lay in my Winnie the Pooh sheets at night. Eventually I got used to not getting an answer. I'd say in my head, "God, may I please speak to my Daddy?" Then I'd wait as if there were angels calling him to listen to me.
• • •
When I was young we used to have "Remember Daddy Time." We would sit in my brother's baby blue room on a colorfully striped comforter and tell something we remembered about my Daddy. I didn't remember too much so a lot of the time my memories were the same. "I remember when we would go see Daddy at work to feed the ducks and he would buy us Chuckles from the candy machine. Red was my favorite, I think Daddy likes black."

In my church youth group we had a discussion about why God does what He does. We all sat in a room and I could hear the fake fire crackling. There was a sheet of reasons and I thought they were dumb. They only left me with more questions than I had before. None of them seemed to make any sense. What could I have learned from my Daddy dying? What did I do to be punished? Why did God think it was "his time" to die?

The summer I was thirteen we went back to New Jersey and I saw my Daddy's grave. I'd only seen pictures before because I didn't remember seeing it when I was three. As I sat near the piece of stone embedded in the grassy earth I placed a rock on the gravestone as a Jewish blessing that Uncle Ron taught me. The wind was blowing my hair and I felt peaceful and it was as if my Daddy wrapped his arms around me and said, "It's okay, La."
• • •
Last spring when I was talking to a friend on the phone I was looking at a picture of my Daddy on the wall.

"My memories are fading. I feel bad because I can't remember him. I can't remember his voice. I can't remember how it felt when he hugged me. All I remember is stupid things like when he gave me a pack of Trident gum on my third birthday." I paused, trying to get myself together. "It was the pink kind," I told him, crying.

"Lara, just because you can't remember him doesn't mean you don't love him and he doesn't love you," my friend said.
• • •
I moved my picture of my Daddy to my dresser so I could see him every morning when I get up, like I used to. He will always be my Daddy. And my friend is right. I will love him forever just as he will love me forever. From time to time he still wraps his arms around me.
EXPOSURES, a Leelanau County Student Journal, has been published since 1988 to showcase the art and writing of Leelanau County high school students. The above two pieces appear courtesy of Exposures '97. More young writers and artists are available from their website at:
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