I was eight years old, sitting in a busy ER when the doctor came in and announced my father’s Hepatitis. I didn’t know what it was back then, but the word was scary, it brought back memories of my father’s sickness, his constant vomiting of blood, and loss of appetite. My dad was my hero, and then came the possibility of me getting it.
Going through pain like seeing someone you love fight for their life really makes you stronger because you have to stay strong for yourself and for your family. Being able to see someone be so strong and so willing to fight, makes you fill with hope and inspire to become better as a whole.
By staying strong, you feel as if you are helping this person, you are encouraging this person to keep going.
The doctors constantly, franticly trying to find a donor, I just sat back feeling helpless, just watching. They put him on meds that made him lose his hair, some days he couldn’t get out of bed. When my dad was sick, I was sick. When he hurt, I hurt.
They came in and tested my family; they told us my dad was contagious through blood and saliva. I could hear my mom crying at night and I’d want to go in and comfort her, I’d end up crying as well.
After six years they found my dad a donor, he was on the verge of cancer and liver failure, the doctors said there was a sixty-forty chance, but they had to go through with it. He spent months after the operation in the hospital, most weeks in the ICU. I never went to see him; I couldn’t see my dad like that. People told me I was selfish, that I should go see him, but I couldn’t bring myself to see my dad hooked up on wires. I broke down several times that summer.
Seeing the person you love most in the world hallucinate and drugged up was hard. Looking at my little sister, I made her feel like everything was okay, even if I didn’t believe it. The time I finally decided to go see my dad he told me something that I’ll always remember, “Suzanne, you’re the one I never worried about. You always talked about how you wanted to be somebody and how you wanted to help people. I know you’ll be anything you want.”
Before my dad’s operation I was the sensitive child. I cried at the drop of a hat. After seeing old family friends last summer, they told me how much I’ve changed. How I wasn’t a ‘crybaby’ anymore. I only cried when appropriate. When they asked me what changed I looked at my father, took his hand and said “Nothing at all”, knowing he was here with me. I understood what it meant to be strong. He showed me that I am stronger now. I am strong.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.