Not Gone Yet
AUTHOR Stephanie Muņoz
SPOILERS: Everything through "Bygones"
ARCHIVE: Anywhere, but let me know. I'd like to visit it!
DISCLAIMER: I am but a poor college student who owns nothing but what is growing beneath my bed. And some crickets. I do not own ER, and I do not gain anything from this except pure enjoyment.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: The first story I've actually completed! Yes, its short, but I've temporarily given up on writing longer ones...
SUMMARY: A short vignette from Rachel's perspective
Not Gone Yet
By Stephanie Muņoz
I remember being a little girl and sitting here in the ER lounge. Most of the time, someone would be in here playing with me while Dad was busy. Sometimes I was alone and kind of scared. People were just outside of this room dying, and my Daddy was out there saving them.
A lot of things have changed. Mom and Dad are divorced. Dad's married to Elizabeth and they have Ella. Ella almost died a few weeks ago because of me, but Dad and Elizabeth saved her.
But now Dad's dying.
And no one can save him.
I reach over to pull another tissue out of the diaper bag by my side. As I wipe another tear, I glance at Ella and smile at the little girl sitting in her carrier as she plays with a stuffed puppy.
Sometimes I envy Ella. She doesn't know that I almost killed her, or how sorry I am. She doesn't know that Elizabeth and Dad nearly separated. She doesn't know that Dad's going to die soon.
And then, I don't envy Ella anymore. She'll grow up with Elizabeth and be a happy little girl, but she'll never remember Dad. She won't have the good memories to cherish and draw upon in the middle of the night. She won't remember what Dad looks like when he smiles. Or how good his pancakes can be. She won't remember what his laugh sounds like. Dad won't be able to go to one of her soccer games or watch old movies with him.
I lean over and kiss Ella's forehead. She is never going to remember her father. She will never know him.
I sigh and look out the window. Its a pretty day. The sun is shining brightly and there's a gentle breeze. You can't see much outside, but you can tell its a nice day. A nice day that I wish I could enjoy.
I wish that I could take back all of the mean things I ever said or thought about Dad. I wish I had never done anything in my life to hurt him. He never did anything to deserve it. I wish I had been a better daughter.
If only Mom and Dad had never divorced. We would still be a happy family, living in the same city, in the same house. We would have been happier. Dad still might be dying, but his life would have been better.
Ella starts fussing, so I give her a bottle, but she doesn't want it. I pull her out of the carrier to sit on my lap but she wiggles around. All she wants is to be held, so I do that, keeping her close and gently rocking her.
I remember the way Dad would hold me when after I had a nightmare. I remember one night in particular. It was after he and Mom divorced and I came to stay with him in Chicago. I'd had an awful nightmare and woke up screaming. He quickly came in, didn't even put on his glasses, and just held me. I gladly let him. He had his usual Dad smell and I felt so warm and safe. I'd give anything to be able to have him hold me like that again and tell me that everything is going to be okay.
But its not. It will never be okay again.
Eventually, Ella settles down and I set her in the carrier and offer her the bottle. She accepts it and her eyes begin to droop. I've finally stopped crying and lean back in the sofa.
Ella won't remember Dad, but I will. I make a promise to myself. I'm going to buy a nice notebook and write down everything I can remember about Dad. I'll share it with her some day when she's older.
I get up, go over to the sink, and splash my face with cold water. Dad doesn't have a lot of time left with us, but I will do everything I can to make sure that we have a wonderful time together. I'm too young to have this many regrets in my life. I won't add to the pile.
As I go sit down with Ella, I feel a little better. Dad's still going to die, but he's not gone yet. And as long as I remember him, he never will be truly gone.
Just then the door opens. Dad's standing in the doorway, looking over at us.
I smile the best smile I can. "Hi, Daddy."
"Hi, sweetheart. You two ready to go?" he asks in a cheerful manner.
I catalog this moment so I can put it in my memory book. Dad standing in the doorway, in scrubs as usual, looking happy. "Yeah. Can we get something to eat on the way home?" I ask.
"Sure. How about pizza?"
"Sounds great." I pick up Ella's diaper bag and head out the door, smiling as he puts a hand on my shoulder.
No, he's not gone yet. I silently thank God for this moment, praying that there will be lots of happy moments in the weeks to come.