The Gift of Life
|Image: All Rights Reserved|
|New York : Simon & Schuster Books|
|for Young Readers|
I followed Dad inside. Meg was waiting for us in the living room. Dad sat next to her on the couch and motioned for me to sit down on the chair across from them. It was like there was an invisible line separating us. I was on one side, and they were on another, like we were at war. I guess Meg wasn’t going to defend me this time. Dad said that Ms. Taylor had called him at work and told him that I hadn’t taken my pills on time. “It’s not a big deal,” I said. “I forgot, so I took them a little while later.”
“Not a big deal?” Dad said. I was beginning to notice that whenever he was mad at me, he repeated the last thing I’d said and tried to make it sound ridiculous. It made me want to laugh. I felt the sides of my mouth turning up just a little.
“You can wipe that grin off your face, Emerson,” Dad said. “This isn’t a joke. You don’t just have the flu, you know. You can’t forget to take your medication. You could build up resistance if you miss a dose. You know that – you’ve been doing this every day for nearly your entire life. This isn’t like you!”
I didn’t feel like laughing anymore. I wanted to tell him that he didn’t know what was or wasn’t like me. He hardly knew me at all.
“Well, we’re going to do something about this, Emerson,” he said, his voice getting louder. “This is unacceptable behavior. Do you know what your mother would say if you pulled something like this with her?”
My chest felt like it was about to explode. I stood up because I couldn’t stay sitting down. He didn’t have a right to talk about her. It was up to me to remember her. “Shut up!” I said.
Dad ignored me. “I’ll tell you what she’d say,” he said.
“Shut up!” I said, and this time I shouted. “You don’t know what she’d say! You left! Besides, she can’t say anything, she’s dead!”
I turned because I was going to run up to my room, but Dad stood up fast and grabbed my arm. He jerked me so I had to turn around and face him. “And you’re alive.” he said. ‘And you’re wasting it. Do you know how hard your mother fought to live? The medication is working for you. It’s a gift. You just need to take it. But you’re wasting this gift you have.”
Dad didn’t know what he was talking about. My life was the opposite of a gift. Mom was dead and it was so unfair, so why should I have to appreciate life and want to live? My life was so much worse than everyone else’s. Why should I have to take my pills?
It was all just too much. I felt like I was fighting with everyone. People were either mad at me or they felt sorry for me so they couldn’t be mad at me. It’s not like I wanted to be that way, but I didn’t know how to be any other way. When Mom was around, I had felt okay. There was someone there who understood what it felt like to be me. But without her, I didn’t know if I was okay. I didn’t know who I was at all. Everyone always said what a miracle it was that Dad didn’t get infected when he and Mom were married, but I realized it would be easier if Dad were HIV-positive, too. It’s not that I wanted him to be sick. I just didn’t want to be so alone. Thinking that made me feel even more hateful.
“You’re skipping school and skipping doses,” Dad continued. “You’re hurting yourself and I won’t have it. I won’t have you throw your life away. You need to think about the future, Emerson. You need to move forward.”
Extract from the book Positively
by Courtney Sheinmel
All Rights Reserved.
New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009.
Call Number: J SHE
Extract contributed by Elizabeth Lee San Bao
Available at NLB
By Kimberly Greene Angle
Call Number: J ANG
By Brenda A. Ferber
Call Number: J FER
What Momma left me
By Renée Watson
Call Number: J WAT
Do you think every life is a gift to be greatly treasured? What would you do to treasure every single moment of life?