The Nightmare That Shaped Me


Janie Aronson, Creative Nonfiction

It was Sunday, November 27th, 2011. I was only in first grade, but I was already excited for the idea of weekends. Days with no school, where you can sleep in and not have a worry in the world. It’s kind of ironic, because all I had to worry about at the age of six was learning to read and maybe write some cursive. Now here I am at the age of sixteen worrying about memorizing the entire periodic table and knowing when to convert equations into radical form in Algebra II.

When I was little, for some odd reason, when I would wake up in the morning I wouldn’t get out of bed until one of my parents came into my room. I would sit in bed calling, “mom!”, or, “dad!”, until they came in. It was like I thought I would get in trouble for getting out of bed without them knowing. There was no reasoning behind this, I had never gotten in trouble for that before, but six year old me continued calling for them day after day. The morning of November 27th, after I woke up, I found my mind wondering to my dad. I didn’t know why, but I felt like something was wrong and I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I guess you could say I was a daddy’s girl because nine times out of ten I would call for him first when I woke up. So, that day I began calling for him as usual. After a couple shouts of, “dad!”, with no response, I started calling for my mom as well. I sat in bed for what felt like hours, but what was probably close to only one, calling for my parents with no avail. Sunlight was pouring into my room. My walls that were pastel pink and green surrounded me in my twin bed with bed rails. I had those bed rails on my bed all the way till the summer after fourth grade. I was known in my family for how much I moved around in my sleep and when it came to family vacations, I was no one’s first pick to sleep with. 

After a little longer, my grandma opened my door, she had been in town for Thanksgiving. She was one of my best friends growing up. I would spend hours playing with her until one of my parent’s had to tell me to leave her alone so she could finally get some peace and quiet. Oftentimes, I would find myself laughing until I couldn’t breath when I was with her. We had our inside jokes and weird games we would play constantly. “Go back to sleep,” she told me, “Your mom will be in soon.” She came in and sat in the white rocking chair beside my bed. I lay back down in my bed under my light pink, soft blanket that I still have to this day. On top of the pink blanket was a white knit blanket that my parents had gotten as a wedding gift. As time went by I grew hotter and hotter, but I didn’t take any of the blankets off of me. I lay in bed sweating, pretending to sleep as my grandma sat rocking beside me. I lay there facing the door of my room, with my grandma behind me for again what felt like hours. I’m not sure how much time had passed, but I lay there until my mom came in.

She walked into my room and as she did my grandma got up out of the rocking chair and left. My mom walked over to a white bookshelf that stood next to my door. Off of the bookshelf she got a small book. I couldn’t yet see what it was that she got. She crossed my room and sat in the white rocking chair that my grandma had been sitting in only seconds earlier. I sat up in my bed and that’s when she showed me the book she got. It was The Bible, a little children’s version. She asked me if I knew what it was. Of course I did, but I told her no, worried about where this was going. She continued on to ask me if I knew who God was, and that’s where the bomb dropped. “Daddy’s up in heaven with God,” she told me. The rest of what she said was a blur. Something about how the nurses couldn’t do anything else. I just sat there, in my bed, not quite understanding or taking in what was going on. She asked if I was okay, and I nodded into my pillow. Then she told me that we had some bagels downstairs, and asked if I wanted her to get me one, again I nodded into my pillow. I spent the rest of that day sitting in bed. My mom had brought me her computer and I used it to watch movies all day. Well, not movies, a movie. I sat there in bed staring at the bright computer screen for hours. I watched the movie Opposite Day over and over again that day. I don’t think I had ever seen it before, or that I have seen it since, but it was a movie about a town where the kids and adults switch lives. The kids were getting up and going to work every day. The adults were going to school everyday and doing what their “parents”, who were actually their children, told them. I also think the only thing I ate that day were the plain bagels someone, I still don’t know who, had gotten. 

That day is one of the most memorable that I’ve had in my life. Parents are the people that shape us into who we are today. They spend their entire adult lives helping to prepare us for ours. Even though I didn’t get much time with my dad, I’d like to say that I reflect who he was, and that he helped to shape me into who I am. Of course there are the literal ways I am like him, for example, I get my insanely frizzy hair from him. Many people have also said that I have his eyes. But there are also other ways that I try to be like him. My dad was the calm, mellow, and easygoing parent. In that way, I think I’m like him. I try my best to not get stressed out over things, and I stay calm in stressful situations. Today, I constantly find myself doing things in order to make him proud. That’s one of my biggest motivations in life. Whenever I’m stressed or unmotivated, I think of him and push myself to achieve great things.