We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

← Back to all stories
Photo ofMerary Flores

The first chapters of my journey in life came to a close on June 12, 2020. The morning of my father's passing, everything felt like an ending, but there was a missing piece, and it was my acceptance.

The morning of June 24, 2012, the bright clear sky shined overhead as brightly as the love my family had for each other. My mother was cooking breakfast while my brother and I played joyfully in our small living room, and my older sister laid in bed. Without notice, the skies slowly began to dim. Our lives took a drastic turn the moment my dad stepped into the bathroom. Everything happened in a rush the moment we witnessed my dad fall back and have a brain aneurysm. Rapidly my brother quickly called the paramedics. My mother then sent my brother and me outside to wait for the paramedics to guide them into our home. The paramedics arrived and began to take my father away. Throughout it all, I felt scared, confused as to what was going to happen to my dad. But as they began to leave, one of the EMTs patted me on the head to comfort me. Little did I know the vivid image of my father being taken to the hospital would constantly replay in my mind over and over again for the years to come.

After the incident, my father was unable to speak, walk, or eat on his own. My dad lived in a nursing home to get medical attention for his health issues. And as for me, I could not be happy because the image of my dad suffering did not allow me to feel joy. My depression and loneliness began to grow.  In the eight years, I longed to hear his voice or to see him walk but throughout the most difficult times, he did more than that. My family and I always visited my dad whether he was at the hospital or in the nursing home. Before being taken into every procedure or test, he always gave me a thumbs up and a bright smile. My father’s strength and optimism were the biggest motivation that kept me going. Even when there was bad news, not once did it tear him down. Throughout it all, he gently helped me gain my joy again. 

In the past eight years of this journey with my dad, he taught me to be strong and content with life. It took me many months after his passing to accept he was not here anymore. Most of the time, it just felt as if he was still in the nursing home. Looking back, every kind, gentle act my dad did was to prepare me for what was to come. Every memory is a reminder that he would be okay; the closing of a beautiful and painful chapter of my life.

© Merary Flores. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.