Author: Medical Plagues (1st place Winner!)
A man was lying in a bed in a hospital he was taken to some time ago. All he can remember was that he woke up at home in the morning weak and tense. By the time he came down the stairs he collapsed and couldn’t get up. After that, here he is.
He was diagnosed with an incurable disease and only has a week to live. He never kept in touch with his family to tell them about his situation. He didn’t even keep in touch with friends whether old and new. He has never spoken with his wife, whom he is estranged from for over a decade now. He pushed them all away.
This man made many mistakes and decisions that he has fully regretted with no way to resolve them. He pushed his family away for not supporting him or even sympathizing with him. He pushes his friends away over petty arguments and past conflicts. And he pushed his wife away after almost five years of not sharing affections.
He had almost everything: a fulfilled dream, a happy family, a career that he loved, and a strong social circle. And just one week toppled all that he worked for. All those decisions, sacrifices, and efforts now wasted. All he has left is dignity and hope — or at least what’s left of it.
There is one person, though, that came to see him on his final day. It’s a family member who he did not expect.
A young woman in her late 20s came into the room, dressed in business attire. She has his eyes and his strong yet gentle posture. The man doesn’t recall who this stranger is until it hit him — it’s his only daughter.
He has not seen his daughter for years after his estrangement.
Before, he would raise her like any parent would and provide a fair treatment that he wasn’t able to receive from his parents. He and his wife did all they could to have a healthy, functional family. There are times when he would treat his daughter to desserts or to the movies, and he would even encourage things that she loved.
She was only 16 when the estrangement happened, and he only got to see his daughter during her high school graduation and during times when she needed career counseling. And he has already prepared her for this moment so that she won’t be afraid or worried.
To see her all grown up and with such success was almost unbelievable to him. Yet, somehow, he is sure that this is his daughter. It didn’t matter how she was able to find him.
“I didn’t not expect you, and despite everything, you come to see me,” the man began, “Why?”
His daughter responds honestly and unregretful, “You’re still my father, so no matter what.”
“Why didn’t you come earlier?” He questioned
“I have my own life too… but I didn’t expect my chance to be on this day. I heard you don’t have much time.” She grabs a chair and sits next to his bed. Then, she places her hands together and looks down. “So this is it?”
The man looked at the ceiling and he gave a nod.
His daughter took a deep breath and looked at him. “You’ve taught me enough.”
Her father’s eyes now turned to her. “That’s it?”
She shakes her head. “All I want to know is…. Why prepare me for this?”
She wondered about this for some time, and his father almost forgot why he was even preparing her for this moment. His father took a moment to recollect his memory to answer this. His eyes are closed, but then they open.
He looks at his daughter again. “Dear, I have a confession to make, so listen carefully and understand.”
When she gave a nod, he pointed to a wall in the room. “Whenever I’m alone, I always find myself seeing this noose that hangs on a wall. Do you want to know why?”
The daughter didn’t have an answer, and the father continued his confession.
“My confession is that despite everything prior to this, the past haunts me. The voice of my parents, my siblings, my friends, my acquaintances, my bullies, those who misunderstood me, who wronged me, who dismissed me, and who didn’t like me have never gone away. No therapy or act of “getting over it” can get rid of them now. My anxiety and fear of the future has turned these voices into demons. I always hang a noose on my wall with no one around and think of whether or not life is worth living. The damning thing about these episodes was that when I do agree that life isn’t worth living, something holds me back from taking my own life. It was as if this subconscious thought will deny me the end of my suffering.”
The daughter was almost tearing up when she heard this part of her father’s confession. Deep inside she felt guilt and wondered if she had a part in his suffering.
The father shook his head at her. “Don’t blame yourself, I forgive you. The only ones I cannot forgive were those who told me that I would be nothing without them, that I will never succeed, or that I don’t know anything. You, along with a very few, have been kind to me throughout my life. Now that I’m here, I believe they expect me to say they are right.”
The daughter got up and held her father’s hand. “Father, you don’t need to say that. That would mean giving up hope. As for happiness, you did so many things that you should be proud of. You taught me how to succeed in school and university. You taught me how to find love, drive a car, and find a job. And I’ve earned my career and achieved my dreams. It’s all thanks to you.Isn’t that enough? You don’t need to think of the bad things in life. Have you forgotten the good? The world may be cruel, but there are things worth living for.”
The father could feel his body give up; he can feel himself struggle to keep consciousness. But with the remaining strength, he tried remembering all those times in his life where he was happy and where he made others happy. He then thought of words a certain therapist has told him that he could pass on to her daughter.
“My last words before I go, dear. This is my thank you.” The father took a deep breath. “You are special. There is nothing wrong with you. Don’t let any negative thoughts, voices, dreams, or so on get to you. Never let others say otherwise. Be who you are. You’re in control. You are a lord of your own design.”
His hand became limp and he gave his last breath before closing his eyes. The sound of the monitor reaches a high pitched noise. He is gone from this world.
The daughter let go of his hands. All she could do now is only sit back down and cover her face.