Final Beats of a Song

There are days I sit and reflect on the episodes that have shaped the character I will eventually become. I have questioned the reason for the experience. Why did it happen? Was I supposed to feel this? Will it ever become just a distant memory? One memory that plays in my mind is the strength it took to endure such an experience. Thinking back it never dawned on me that such an event would become a reality in my life. That year became the defining moment that I realized I was no longer here to play games; it was time to get serious. I had my days of stubbornness, feeling strongly that I was ready, and I knew what life had to offer me. I had no fear, only resolve. However, life would throw me a curve ball that would clarify every lesson learned.

I can remember the cold temperature of the hospital waiting room. The smell that resembled freshly applied Band-Aids. The doctor in his mild-mannered way was trying not to display any personal connection. I felt that it was an uncompromising technique they acquired to remain objective. News such as this is probably the hardest they will ever have to deliver. I could still hear the echoing of my heart beat as it seemed to be knocking on my ear drum. The unsettling tension and knots in my stomach; that curtain that seemed to be drawn closed to extinguish any radiance of hope.

The drive home was a long one. Watching every stripe pass beneath the vehicle, like short flickers of a film showing the life I had known with an abrupt change in the plot. The world around me was in a time-lapse. I felt stationary. Unable to grasp the mysteries of the days ahead. We made it home only to let the silence drown out any thoughts of tomorrow’s tasks.


I was awakened to the sounds of distant bells. I took a moment to let that sound sink in, searching my memory to identify what I was hearing. Sitting up, I heard the faint bleeps and baa’s of the flock as they celebrated their release. I rose and made my way toward the kitchen. The air was thick with the smell of breakfast. The sun reaching in through the large window of the living room. I turned to catch a glimpse of a portrait I had seen many mornings before, my father sitting in his favorite chair, sipping a cup of coffee focused on the scenery of a life he has always known. These will be the images worth remembering.

Every visit had been more difficult than the one before; seeing the slow process of weakening in a man that defined strength in the hearts of many. Although the frame had become flaccid, the eyes still hold an unbreakable spirit. But these moments did not break the faith my father had in me. The constant reminding of how proud he was to watch a child become a man. Stories shared of a past that defined a generation. The hardships that were endured to shape who we will become. However some days were spent reminiscing the humorous moments that seem to break any trace of pain and worry. On occasion there would be silence, with nothing more than a gaze followed by a slight gesture of reassurance. I would sometimes take walks amongst the vast open air under the shimmering stars above and feel the hope slowly pulled from my being.

Days became months and the thought of grasping every opportunity to ensure a brighter day was a continuous mission. Some days were like any other with potential waiting to be inherited. I searched for any situation that would enable me to enrich my existence. I wanted to become a person of passion. I wanted to live a life of substance. Exhaustion began to take hold and the idea of a soft bed, a fluffed pillow, and an inviting silence was what I longed for. Suddenly a weak vibration revived me. The moment had come. The call I never wanted to receive had just pushed all other arrangements aside.

The drive was long with the stripes of the roads flickering as they passed beneath the vehicle. Quickly, I was reminded of the drive I had experienced before. With every passing mile I began to recreate the meaningful stage my father had assembled to refine my character. Words of inspiration I had so foolishly taken for granted. Nights of worrisome thoughts which manifested to matted pieces of carpet from endless pacing. How could I have been so selfish? Why wasn’t I able to grasp the concept of betterment through lesson? Was this to be the end?

For hours I sat next to him, grasping the powerful hands that carried me, that fed me, that clothed me. With every passing breath I felt the squeeze become nothing more than a slight clinch. The rhythmic beat of a heart that has sheltered a family for fifty-two years was coming to a slow glitch as if it were the final beats of a song we all enjoyed and loved. It was 5:45pm when we said our last goodbye. Although the release was hard, I have never forgotten the essence that my father bestowed in my everyday environment. One thing I know for sure is the voice of a father who has given me these words to think of: Perseverance will re-enforce the desire, initiative provides multiple paths to follow, and a father’s love will make any obstacle achievable. Today, I celebrate the life lessons. Tomorrow I create lessons of my own.

Vernon Kaye is from Lukachukai, Arizona, and studies information technology at Navajo Technical University. 

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