I just celebrated my fifteenth birthday, which means my dad has been gone for almost fourteen years now. I don’t remember him. Mom always gets upset right after my birthday. After all, a couple weeks after my birthday is the anniversary of my dad’s death. My dad died of a recurring brain tumor in the spring of 2002. My dad was a doctor at Cook County General. He was an ER attending. Mom is still a surgeon there. She has been the Associate Chief of Surgery for almost seventeen years now.
I wish I knew what it is like to have a dad. I’m a little jealous of my friends who have dads. Our family friends, Doug and Carol Ross, live in Seattle. They have twin daughters, Tess and Kate, who are sixteen. That family is complete. Mine isn’t. I love my mom so much and she’s done a lot for me. Mom is very strong and she tries not to cry, but I’ve seen her cry before.
My parents only got to have three years together. I don’t know how many times the nurses at the hospital have told me how great my parents were together. I love to hear those stories. At the same time, I feel sad. After the nurses tell me all those stories, they tell me how I have my dad’s eyes. I guess I do. Other than my eyes, I look like my mom. I have long red curly hair. I also have a little bit of a British accent. I picked that up from my mom’s family.
One of my favorite people is Carter. Well, I should call him Dr. Carter. He told me how much he admired my dad. When Carter was a medical student, my dad helped him and was kind to him. Carter told me how my dad helped him when he got addicted to painkillers. Carter also told me that he was the first person my dad told about his tumor.
I wish I had gotten to know my dad. My half sister, Rachel, tells me about what a great dad he was. I like to hear that, but I get upset that didn’t get to have that.
I remember the first time I asked Mom where my dad was. I think I was three. Anyway, she smiled sadly and her lip trembled. Tears began to run down her cheeks. She said, "Heaven, Ella. He’s in Heaven." When I was eleven, I asked Mom a sad yet thoughtful question. I asked her if people forgot their family and friends when they went to Heaven. She replied, "No Ella. Your dad would never forget you."
Mom hasn’t dated seriously. She’s gone out with friends from the hospital, but that’s it. She never got over my dad. I think she’s afraid to lose her love again.
While the nurses at the hospital tell me the gossip on my parents, Mom tells me the really sweet things. I love the way my dad proposed to her. I also love the story of their first romantic encounter and how they did the tango.
I know I can’t change things, but if I could, I would do it for my mom, not me. She knew Mark Greene and I didn’t. There’s a picture on my bedside table. It’s of Mom, Dad and myself on the day I was born. In that picture, we were together. I wish we were together right now and everyday.