“What should such fellows as I do, crawling between heaven and earth?”
Written by the great William Shakpeare, from the play “Hamlet”
As I sat in my eight year old body on the polished wooden benches, I realized that my “perfect” little family would no longer remain so “perfect”. That was the day I watched an uptight judge agree with the prosecutor and send the defendant to prison for five years. It was the moment I was forced to stop being a kid and grow up. At an instant, I took the role of being stuck in the middle of a war, when all I had wanted to do was run away, and never turn around to look back.
With my legs crossed and my hands neatly folded in my lap, I appeared calmly confused. I didn’t understand what I was doing here! I felt like a new born infant being passed around to the next relative that would continue to have the same stupid, but yet silly look on their face.” If only I were still this tiny”, I thought to myself, then I could break out the tears and automatically be returned to my mommy, where I new I would always be protected. Just then, my imaginary thoughts were ripped to shreds when the white haired judge slapped his wooden hammer to the slab and continued with a lecture. Although I knew he spoke perfect “American” English, to me it sounded like nothing more then a foreign language I was never taught.
Again, lost in my own train of thought, and trying to figure out what the hell was going on, I was once again interrupted. All I remember is hearing my grandmother gasp for air, like she had been held under water for three minutes. I had never seen her cry before, but for some odd reason I couldn’t bring myself to look away. It wasn’t until the shinny metal shackle’s were brought out and placed around my fathers wrist’s that I realized why my grandmother’s heart was broken. However, it was the sunshine in my own heart that had been dimmed to dark. It was at this moment that I knew my dad was the defendant in this court case. He had been sentenced to five years away from home, and I wasn’t even allowed to say goodbye.
The first few days with out my dad were pretty hard to deal with. I was really upset and sad about everything that was happening, but my emotions eventually grew tired and turned num. I sat along the side lines and watched as my mother stress and cry constantly. The funny thing about my mom though, was that she would never purposely allow my sister or me to see her upset. She didn’t want us to know that anything was wrong, even though she knew we both already did. Never the less, she always stood so tall and proud, even at her most vulnerable moments. It was my mom that was the foundation on which my sister and I stood. We were aware that she had faith and believed that we could still achieve great things, even at the worst of times.
As the years seem to fly by as fast as the days do in summer, promises were often made and broken by my father. Things like being there to see me off for my senior prom, and seeing his face in the crowd as I graduated with honors. So many memories I wished he could have been apart of, were usually just spit down the drain like used toothpaste. It was at this time in my life that I found comfort in writing. I would usually daydream about moving very far away from everything I had ever known. Although I had changed so much from the time my dad was incarcerated, to the time he was released, I still felt the urge to disappear. I wanted to go some where no one knew me, and start over by being who ever I wanted to be. I wanted to experience a place that had stores still open at four in the morning, and a jungle of people that poured and covered the streets. I figured if I picked a place really far away, then it would be easy for me to forget about my life here.
With the idea of still wanting to leave my home in the back of my head, I woke to see the bright sun glaring through my window. After finally crawling out of bed, I changed for work and reached for the door that would lead me to the rest of the world. As I looked up I noticed a yellow sticky note stuck to the wood. My step dad would often leave them lying around for us to stumble over.” Life is what you make of it, so make it a good one”, the tiny yellow note said to me, and then I turned the door knob and released myself outside. As I climbed into my car I sucked in a breath of light cool air. I turned the key and pulled down on the gear shift, the car slowly slide backward. While I guided the wheel, the vehicle seemed to flip and flop against the washboard dirt roads I had often complained about time and time again!
For a short instance, the sweet sultry sun danced across the windshield and upon my skin. It shinned like adolescent education, full of excitement and questioning wonder. My eyes widened as the realization of paradise slapped me in the face like a mad mother!
The home I had wanted to run away from for so long stood up and faced me like a man that day. Its hand seeped through my chest and clutched my beating heart in its palm. It squeezed forcefully until hatred was replaced with love.
Subsided fears ran through my body and out the limes and tips of my toes and fingers. As I blinked the salty water out of my eyes, a desired smile broke the concentration of my face. The distinct feeling of that instant is one that I hold close to my soul. It was a feeling of joy, love and hunger for living life, no matter what town I was in or what problems I had to face. It was the first time in a long time I felt free from my dad’s shadow of mistakes. That was a really great day.
Nearly a year later from the scene I just described to you and two days ago from now, I received a phone call from my dad’s probation officer. In a strong but gentle voice, he delivered the news that my dad had violated his parole, and was yet again put in county jail. A long time ago, I promised myself that I would never go back to visit my dad in prison again. I don’t know if I’ll keep my promise or not, but I do know that I believe in happiness, no matter what the odds may be. As far as being stuck between heaven and hell goes, I think I know exactly where I am.
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