Teen Essay Series: Let It Be
This is the first in a series featuring the finalists in our inaugural Teen Essay Contest. Veronika Kruger’s essay, “Let It Be,” won 1st Place in the Family and Friends category.
My name is Veronika Kruger and I’m from Oak Park California. I’ve enjoyed participating in many sports such as Soccer and Cheerleading. My family and my friends are a huge aspect of my life. I’m a typical teenage girl and I love to shop and go to the beach! One day I would love to go to a college, I’m not sure where I want to go yet but I really enjoy literature and photography and I would really like to continue to write and take pictures!
Let It Be
Dear Cancer, it’s me… If I’m writing this to you, it must mean that you are out of my house, out of my family, and out of my life- at least for now. I first met you when I was only 5. You were close with my Dad. At that point in my life, I didn’t know exactly what you were or what you were doing to my father. I imagined you as a man in a black cape and mask, sort of like a comic book character. You would play pranks on him like make his hair fall out, and make him so skinny that he could barely keep his pants on. You even made him fall down sometimes, but my dad would just laugh, so at the time I didn’t think you were a bad guy at all. I first got a sense of fear from you when I had to visit my Dad in the hospital because he was getting an immediate transfusion. I remember crying, and saying to my dad “I want to take those things out of you arms. I want to take you home with me right now!” But my dad said, “No, let me show what these tubes are. They are giving me blood. They’re going to make me feel better, and when it’s all done, then I can come home and be with you and read you a story.”
And Dad did come home. And he did read me lots of stories, and played animals with me. And Mr. Cancer, I thought you were gone forever. My family and I had a lot of fun. We went on vacations, to beaches, mountains, and lakes. We had campfires and game night, puzzles, and gazing at the stars through my brother’s new telescope. We also got a puppy, and we named him Buster. Buster loved my Mom the most.
One day when I came home from school, my Mom, my Dad, my Brother, and Buster were all sitting in the living room. My Mom and my Brother were crying. I could feel there was someone else in the room, but I didn’t see anyone there. It was you Mr. Cancer, opening the door for me, but this time you weren’t standing behind my Dad, you were standing silently behind my Mom. I sat down, and then my Mom said, “Honey I have some bad news. Remember when Daddy was sick with cancer? Now its my turn.” I said, “Don’t worry Mom! I know you will be alright, Dad is healthy again.” My Mom sat there and said, “I won’t worry Sweetie, I want to be there when you graduate, I want to be there when you get married, and I want to be there when you have kids of your own. Everything will be alright.”
Over the next few years, you were much meaner to my Mom than you were to my Dad, Mr. Cancer. You made her cry. You made her legs and arms hurt. She had trouble seeing, and breathing and even talking, and you never did this to my Dad! That’s when I knew you weren’t some kind of masked prankster; you were a heartless, cold, vicious, mean spirited entity. And the worst part was that you were a kidnapper. You took my Mom away from me, even though her body was sitting right there on the couch. You took the one who used to hug and kiss me, and say goodnight to me every night and never forgot to tell me that she loved me. She was the one who would make me pancakes on the weekend, and take me shopping and let me try on clothes, even though we couldn’t afford them. The one thing you couldn’t take away Mr. Cancer, was the day she let me try on her Wedding Dress. A big smile crossed her face that I hadn’t seen in such a long time. She told me the Dress was mine, and her biggest wish was to get to see me wear it on my Wedding Day. The days passed and just when we would think she was getting better, she would get worse and then worse again. I would come home to see a grey skinned, emaciated body sitting on my couch, who would just look at me, those painful dark brown eyes that tore my heart out. There was nothing I could do to help my Mom and that was the worst possible feeling. It became so hard to see her there that I didn’t even want to come home anymore, so my Dad let me stay with my friends on whole weekends. I tried to keep moving and keep busy all the time so that I wouldn’t have to come home. But what I really wanted to do was come home, hug my Mom and make everything all right again. I wanted to bundle my Mother up in something you, Mr. Cancer, couldn’t get through. I wanted to make her safe.
My Mom went to her doctor in Santa Monica for a routine check up and they decided it was best for her to stay overnight. The next day the phone rang. I was getting ready to go with my friend to Venice Beach when my Brother answered and had a terrified look on his face. It was my Dad, he was with my Mother in the hospital and he wanted us to get down there immediately because there was something very wrong. We both got in the car and headed down to the hospital as fast as we could. I didn’t know what to put on the radio, and I remember thinking, “What song do you play when you’re on the way to watch your Mother die?” I decided to go with Let It Be, by the Beatles. As soon as we got there we went to the ICU and joined my Dad in a small room with wires and machines that I had seen before. Before long my Grandmother came too. My Mom had a big blue oxygen mask over her face and we all crowded in close as she tried to talk to us. I was the closest to her and she wrapped her hand around mine when she spoke, squeezing it with every word. She first said to my Brother, “I’m so proud of you…you grew up so well…you’re so kind, and so smart.” She asked my Dad to go find the doctor and then she said to me, “I love you so much…I’ll still be there, watching over you at your graduation and when you get married.” I held her hand so tight. I never wanted to let her go. After that, my Dad came back with the Doctor, and the Doctor checked one of the machines and said nothing, he just looked at us. My Dad nodded sadly. He was shaking. He went over to my mom and stroked her head and kissed her cheek.
They moved my Mom out of ICU to a room in the hospital where people go to die. We were at the end of the hall. No one could bother us, my Grandma, my two Uncles, my Brother and my Dad. In the new room she lost consciousness some time in the night. We still talked to her like everything was okay, but she wasn’t talking back anymore. After the first night, nothing much had changed. We all sat there and watched as her breathing got worse and each of us took a turn in crying. There would be some times where she wouldn’t breathe for a long time and we would all stare, wondering if it would be her last. My Dad had been sleeping on a bench outside in the hallway and on the second night, he came in very late. I watched as he stroked her hair and held her lifeless arm next to his and whispered words of wisdom. I fell fast asleep and woke up to the red, wet eyes of my Brother, shaking me to wake up. He said no words. He merely looked at me and back at my Mom. I stared, waiting for her to take a breath, but she never did. I ran out to get my dad and I didn’t say anything to him either, but instantly he knew. It’s odd, how in times of such heartache all you need to communicate is just a simple look. There you go, Mr. Cancer. You got what you wanted. Not only did you take the soul of my Mom but you took the soul of my whole family with you. I hope this makes you feel good because I know that’s what you do. Some day, someone will conquer you. They will figure out how to stop you from making so many people miserable and having little girls watch you “prank” their Daddies and make their Mother shrivel away, and there won’t be anymore stories like mine. I can’t wait for that day.
Sincerely, Veronika Kruger