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The Final Night
By Kelli Donovan
Genre: Non-fiction Level: High School 10-12

Grace Christian School, Anchorage
10th grade essay on a "challenging life experience"

He died at 9 p.m. on July 22, 1990. I remember hearing my mom let out a scream as I saw her round the corner and head down the hall. I don't remember where she went but I remember walking out of my room knowing that I was going to grow up fatherless from now on. I walked from the comforts of my room into a reality that I would be dealing with for as long as I lived.

I remember asking where my brother was. My mom's blank reply said he was in my dad's room, looking at him. I begged to be able to go see my dad. I don't really know why. Today I might guess that it was some type of closure, but right then I think I just needed to see my dad one last time, to get one last memory of him. My Grandma disapproved of my seeing him dead but I didn't care, and my mom felt that if I was sure then she was sure too.

Kelli Donovan

When I walked in the room was very quiet. My uncle John was standing by the bed, and my brother was quietly standing by his bed holding my dad's old black watch that he still keeps today. I remember seeing my dad with no hair and it just looked to me as if he was sleeping. I didn't cry despite everyone else, in fact I barely ever cried; my brother would always scream at me for that, it made him very angry that I never showed my feelings, he couldn't understand why. Even I don't really know why. Some people told my mom it was because I was too young and I didn't understand it yet, but I don't think that was it at all. I was very sad, I just didn't want anyone to see me cry and feel they had to cry too. Everyone in my family was too sad already, and I didn't want to cause any more tears than necessary.

My aunt Kathi gave me a blanket to wrap up in. It was late; I remember being very tired and yet somewhat satisfied. Almost my whole family was there around me and his death hadn't really impacted me totally yet, it just scared me. I crawled under a chair and lay down. I didn't sleep; I just lay there in all of my bustling surroundings. I recall the smell of my house on that purple blanket. It's the smell that you know is there but you can't really smell at all, and yet you know that's what you smell like.

Later, the police came to check out my father's body and make sure he died a natural death since we weren't in the hospital. I was very intrigued by this and I sat on the couch watching them take down some kind of notes in a little black book. There were two of them. Someone took me to my room; I was still wrapped in my blanket. I didn't go to sleep; who would have? Even though I was only eight years old, I felt that that night changed me forever.

From that night on I became the comforter in my family: My mom was always crying, my brother was always angry, and I was neither, so I felt the need to make sure my mom was OK. I guess we all dealt with it in our ways. We would all sometimes lie on her bed and cry, except for me. I would just rub my mom's head and pat her back and whisper, "It's going to be OK, everything will be all right."

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