Hi there, it’s your old pal Faith but not for long this time. I have seen the future. She lives and writes in Adair County. Part of my dream for this website was to provide a forum for young writers to be published. I wasn’t published until my mid-thirties but when it happened my life was changed. It set me on fire. The opportunity to hand that fire down to another writer, especially an Adair County writer, feels like looking up at the stars. Big and small all at once…
I asked my students to write their personal narratives. I told them not to self-censor and encouraged them to express themselves freely without fear of judgment or reprisal. I was emotionally unprepared for their responses. Passionate young writers are coming up in Adair County and, by God, they are going to tell their stories.
The following piece is from a writer named Jerri Daugherty. I should have known she was a writer the moment she stepped in my room for the first time. She was dead-serious and bespectacled. She said, “This looks to be the room of a witch.”
I wish I had known then what I know now. Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you the superior and heartbreaking work of my colleague, Jerri Daugherty:
“Death is not like the movies. It doesn’t give you a warning. You don’t get to say goodbye. There is no talking to the dead once they’re gone. They don’t wander around the house waiting to talk to you. There’s nothing but confusion and the bitter realization that you are forced to go on, even if you don’t want to. Sometimes, it goes like this:
You wake up in the morning to get ready for school. You get dressed, do your makeup, brush your hair, and go to the bus stop. You don’t wake up your parents to say goodbye, especially not your dad, because he was tired the night before. He was sleeping in the rocking chair in the living room when your boyfriend brought you home.
You head out to school and have a good day. A normal day. Normal, that is, until you arrive at your local vocational college and start to work on your daily module. It’s the same old welding module you’ve been studying for weeks; angles, metals, and so forth. You’re joking around with your friends when all of the sudden your instructor asks you to come into his office.
I don’t remember all the details. It isn’t a time my brain wants to keep. My instructor basically told me something bad had happened and he couldn’t tell me anything except that it wasn’t good. He looked me straight in the eye and asked if he could pray with me. As a Christian I’m always open to prayer but this seemed different. I let him pray with me.
I checked my phone on the way to the office. Nothing. Yet I felt in my heart that the news would be bad.
When I arrived at the office the most unexpected sight was waiting for me there: my grandma.
She said, “Did anyone tell you?”
“It’s your dad,” she said. “He’s gone.”
I was completely dumbfounded.
“What?” That was all I could say.
There was no way. He was just asleep this morning in bed with my mom. There is no fucking way.
We got into my grandmother’s car and I called mom. My brother answered her phone. He was angry. He just kept saying over and over, “Dad’s dead. Dad’s dead.”
I didn’t want to believe it. I called him a liar and kept asking where my dad was. I demanded to speak to him. My mom finally got on the phone, crying, and told me it was real and to get home as fast and as safe as possible. We hung up.
Grandma drove the speed limit on the way to my house. I was stunned and staring out the windshield thinking, “this isn’t real, this can’t be real”. If I’d been in my right mind I’d have asked to drive. I would have sped the whole way home, like my brother did.
When I got to my house I saw an ambulance and cop cars, or maybe just one cop car, I can’t remember. What I do remember is getting out of my grandma’s car and dropping my bag right there where I stood. I pointed at the ambulance and asked, “Is my daddy in there?”
I was sixteen years old. I hadn’t called him “Daddy” in years but that’s how it came out that day. Daddy.
I don’t remember every single detail. This is all I have: I walked into the house. A lady cop was there and she tried to keep me out. She’s lucky she didn’t succeed because I think I might have hit her. That was my dad in there. I was getting to him one way or another.
When I got to my dad they had him covered with a sheet-like thing. I grabbed his hand. He was so cold. I started to cry. I shook his hand and begged him, “wake up, Dad, please. Wake up, please, Dad.”
I was there for what felt like forever. Then Mom said it was time to go. I remember sitting outside with all my family there. Just waiting. Waiting for them to bring my dad out of the house. They left him in there for hours, there on the ground. He didn’t belong there. He didn’t deserve to die on the floor, alone.
Too often I wonder if he suffered. Did he call out for one of us? Was he crying? Was he ready? Did he know how much I loved him? Did he know how kind, funny, and important he was to us? Did he take our love with him when he left us?
Did he know how much I fucking loved him?
I was, and still remain, so mad. I was mad at everyone because they weren’t him. They were living, breathing, and he wasn’t. I was mad at myself for not saying goodbye that morning. I should have awakened him. I was mad at God for taking my dad away from me. My friend. My supporter. My hero. My first love.
After the Important People took my dad’s body and everyone left, we all sat in the house confused and crying.
We’ve made it so far. That’s not the whole story. It will never end now. It still hurts. It hurts so fucking bad. I still cry and pray, begging God to bring him back. But he can’t.