July 15

An Essay By Keri // 9/1/2011

This isn't even a real essay. It's probably the worst in terms of grammar that I've written in years. Usually, when I write, I try to put emotion and a sort of magic in the words. Here, I tried to avoid emotion and magic was the last thing on my mind. I tried to create almost a listing of the facts. But here you go, my excuse as to why I've been hiding the last month or so. 


 It felt like a bad day. At least, I felt in ill spirits all day. Even though it was one of my best friends’ birthday celebration and the three of us were going to have a blast, I just was tired. I decided that it was the weather and I was tired. Both combined. This was confirmed when we were inside doing calm activities and I felt better.

Throughout the day, we got updates about him. He was in the hospital. It was strange to think of the man who only ever entered those buildings to comfort people being there out of necessity. But he was ok. He’s always ok; I didn’t even worry. Then he was in surgery. It strange to think it was so bad he needed surgery, but he was ok. He He’s always ok; I didn’t even worry. He had gone into cardiac arrest. I suddenly forgot what that was. Heart attack right? People recover from those all the time and he was already in the hospital. Strange to think of him having a near-death experience. We prayed for him and Sherry* was worried. I said comforting things that I didn’t believe. But he was ok. He’s always ok; I wasn’t even worried.

It was Cat’s* birthday, so Sherry wanted to pamper her. First, she gave her massage. We didn’t talk much, our minds were elsewhere. I sat by and thought how good she was getting to be at the art of massage. “If I’m ever upset, you guys should do this for me.” Sherry commented. Then she was determined to paint Cat’s nails. Sherry left the room for something and I sat alternately petting and running my fingers through Cat’s hair because she said it felt good. My grumpiness had turned to laziness. With Sherry out of earshot, I said what I had been feeling. I told Cat I wasn’t concerned about him. Cat agreed. I told her my very sensible reason why I thought nothing was going to happen, “I mean, it’s Mr. Duff!” She concurred. Nothing was going to happen.

Sometime after we prayed and before we pampered Cat, I felt like my family might not know. I called my father and he told me that my mom had told him about the cardiac arrests. So it had been two? Neither of us was sure how many. It seemed like an important detail.

Sherry was almost done with Cat’s first hand I was still petting hair. My phone on Cat’s desk buzzed. I got up to answer it. Caller ID said it was Dad.


“Mr. Duff passed away.”


He kept talking, saying things, probably important things, but I don’t remember what he said. I just kept repeating my original response. My mind was in panic. Not panic. Yes, panic, but a calm panic. I had no emotion. Like it was slowly draining from me all day and now it was gone. I wasn’t even stunned. I only felt concern for Sherry. Even though Beth* and Cat were there, I was worried about Sherry. I tried to make a plan. I didn’t imagine how she would react. I would take her in a hug and tell her quietly. I would use either my dad’s words or the word “gone.” I would be gentle. I would hold her in my arms.

My mouth was twitching like it wanted to smile. If I had time, I might have been nervous. I might have told dad that I loved him and said goodbye, I don’t remember hanging up. I found myself facing them. I found myself turned around and looking into three faces. Three waiting faces. Three people who, like me, had grown up with him and loved him. Three people he had lovingly helped through the worst parts of their lives so far. My mouth was twitching again and I forgot everything. “Mr. Duff Died.”

Sherry looked at me, so shocked. “Are you kidding?” As if it was all a cruel joke on my part. I shake my head, the answer is no.

She was already sitting on the ground, but she still managed to collapse. She buried her face in her arms and cried. Those sobs. Her sobs and her pain will haunt me for a very long time. My best friend was probably in the worst pain she had ever felt and I had smacked her in the face with it. While I had shoved all my emotion into an inner drawer, the drawer was full. My heart broke for the first time that night. It broke for Sherry. I sat on the floor next to her and stroked her back in a strange hug while she sobbed. I picked up the knocked over nail polish and screw the cap on. Then I was stroking her back with all my might. I wanted so badly to take her pain away, to make things alright. Things couldn’t be made alright and all I could do was rub her back and be there. Sherry probably didn’t want to stay the night as originally planned now. I worked far enough past the lump in my throat to ask.

“Do you want me to call your family to take you home?” She did. 


I can't write anymore. I haven't gotten to the part where I really realize what's going on. So much more happened , but this is all I could write. Because this part is the least upset I was, and when I write, I live it. I can't relive anymore. 


*Names changed


That is really sad. I'm sorry

That is really sad. I'm sorry for your loss.

E | Thu, 09/01/2011

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

 Very good essay. And very

 Very good essay. And very sad :`( So, Mr. Duff was related to Sherry? 

Laura Elizabeth | Thu, 09/01/2011

The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --


 Thank you :)   No, he was

 Thank you :)


No, he was our pastor. He and Mrs. Duff had no children, but they had all the kids in the church (it's a small church). There were a few that were extra special and Sherry was one. 

Keri | Thu, 09/08/2011


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