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My Hero
Published Apr 23, 2013

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Page 1 / 19

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It's been twelve years now. At first, I didn't realize it, otherwise I would've never picked this day to propose to Jess. But things work out like that sometimes. And that's why, as fate would have it, I'm proposing to her on the twelve-year anniversary of his death. I had a lot of friends when I was a kid, and I still do. But he was always my best friend. I'm sure plenty of kids say that about their dads, but he was different. He was my hero. And, as a firefighter, he was a hero to the rest of the town as well. They say I'm a hero, too, because we share the same profession. I disagree. Having the same job as him doesn't make me a hero, and it doesn't even make me half the man he was. We used to everything together. He even used to take me down to the fire station sometimes, when he was off-duty. He taught me how to slide down the pole, and even took me fore rides in the firetruck. I used to love it there, and I'd stick around for as long as I could, which, really, wasn't very long. But at the same time, despite how in love I was with his career, it kept me awake at night, knowing he was out there, risking his life. It tortured me, the thought that he might not come home, and it left me standing in front of the window and waiting anxiously for his return. One night, he took an unusually long time to arrive home. I started to panic, fearing the worst. Finally, I saw him stroll up the driveway, and, abandoning all reason and logic, I dashed downstairs and outside into the pouring rain. He was surprised to see me, but, without missing a beat, he wrapped his arms around me. My favorite day of the week was always Thursday. He worked the day shift on Thursdays while I was at school, and by the time school let out, he was done with work. We'd do all sorts of things together, especially outdoors. One of my favorite activities was soccer, though I admittedly wasn't very good at it. Sometimes Dad would purposely miss a shot to make me happier. I didn't realize it then. We'd also play catch often, too, even when all he had was five minutes before he had to leave for work. He got me that baseball when I was five years old, and as story goes, promised my Mom that he'd make an athlete out of me. He did, I guess. But, primarily, he made a firefighter out of me. But perhaps the most profound memory of him that I can still recall - as clearly as I could the day it happened - was one night after dinner. It was a normal evening, nothing special, no big grandeur. He sat me down on the couch and turned to me. He sighed.
"A lot can go wrong," he said suddenly, referring to the firefighting.
"There's so much risk involved," he told me. "And I think it's important that you understand that." I nodded. "I love you, and I want you to know that. If something ever happens, if I ever-- no matter what, I love you," he said quietly, and I presumed it was to keep Mom from hearing. I was confused and scared and bewildered. What was he trying to say? Well, I guess I did know what he was trying to say, at least subconsciously. I knew, full well, that he was saying he could die, but I didn't want to acknowledge that or entertain his death as being in the realm of possibility. He was saying he could die, and I refused to believe or accept that right on until the day he really did die, just as he promised he eventually would. It was a Thursday afternoon. Mom was late picking me up from school. Without even saying a word, she simply hugged me, tight, and I guess I knew, right then, that he was gone. Again, some part of me refused to believe or accept this, and when she pulled away, I asked her shakily what was wrong and searched her eyes for answers I already knew. "He loved you," she whispered. I couldn't take it anymore. I was sick of her dancing around the topic foolishly as if ignoring it might resurrect him.
"Is he..." I couldn't quite bring myself to say the word 'dead'. Luckily, she cut me off with a choked, "Yes." I was devastated. I watched my life fall apart before my very eyes.
The funeral was unceremonious. He never wanted a large funeral. Only a few other relatives attended. After they left, Mom and I stayed behind for a few minutes. We didn't stay for long; emotionally, I don't think either of us was stable enough to stay any more than five minutes longer than we needed. Suddenly, as I looked down at his grace, it became all too real. And that's exactly what it was: real. Warm tears trickled down my face slowly, my composure vanished. And now, here I am. Twelve years later, with my girlfriend, soon to be my fiance. It still feels like yesterday. And for Mom, I still don't think it seems any less like a terrible nightmare, one that she still seems hellbent on waking up from. So much has changed in twelve years. But I still miss him, every second of every day. That hasn't changed in twelve years, and it never will. Dad proposed to Mom in this little alcove at the beach, and I've selected that as the place where I'll propose to Jess. It seems right to me, especially being that today is the twelve-year anniversary. I swear, it feels like he's here with me. It feels like they both are. And maybe they are. Maybe he's here with us in my mind and, always, in my heart. Where ever you are, Dad, I hope you're proud.

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fruitopia VIPMay 7, 2013

Good story, I really liked the screenshot on page 18.

urm0mMay 3, 2013

That was beautiful

hedwigy13Apr 25, 2013

Hi guys! Thank you for your lovely comments.

1. Unfortunately, JennC32, this was intended to be a stand alone story and will not be continued further. However, another, unrelated story is currently in progress.

2. In response to a comment from someone I know in real life, before anyone asks, this is based on a true story. My friend lost his father in a firefighting accident four years ago.

Thanks again for your comments!
-- hedwigy13

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