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I Always Will
By Paige Lougheed - 16 Years Old

I was there the night my sister nearly killed herself.

Sitting down on our cushy chocolate brown couch, I clicked half-heartedly through the channels on our old, beat-up box television. The T.V. had been a gift from one of our old friends. At the time I had thought it generous of him to donate an entire TV. to us for no reason– but now as I stared at its rickety frame and poor signal, I wondered if his motivation was really genuine kindness, or him just using our house as storage space.

As the screen flicked from the family channel to the evening news in the living room, I listened through the thin walls of our basement suite to my mother’s and sister’s argument, coming from the bedroom my sister and I shared. I listened to my sister’s tyrannous cries about how my mother’s demands were so horribly unfair, and my mother’s retorts.

I know I should have been more proactive at the time. I could have gone in there and coaxed them into calming down, maybe even made them some tea. But being only twelve years old at the time with little to no experience about how to handle this type of conflict, I anxiously kept my eyes fixed on the screen and continued clicking away. My mother telling my sister to grow up a little. Click. My sister crying in protest. Click. My eyebrows knitted together as my palms began to sweat. Click.

Eventually, their rampage carried out into the kitchen, with my sister’s face blotchy with the tears that endlessly poured down her face. My mother seemed very obviously fed up, bumping into chairs and knocking against the counter with increasing noise as I gripped the remote even tighter.

They were getting to the peak of their argument about who knows what, when I caught a glimpse of sterling silver in my sister’s hand out of the corner of my eye. Wait. What? What was that she was holding? The panicked look in my mother’s eyes as she tried to snatch it away from her said all I needed to know, and more. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good.

I whipped around to face them full-on, but it was too late. My nine-year-old sister had been jumping up and down in fury when the dinner knife she had been grasping in her hand plunged into her hip.

The look of absolute misery on my sister’s face switched in an instant to pure horror as she began to shake. My mother’s expression was just as shocked and scared, as she ushered her away from the kitchen and into the bathroom. Panic spread through my limbs and was churning in my stomach as I sprang from the couch and stumbled after them into the bathroom.

It’s in a situation, like when a sister accidentally stabs herself, that having a nurse as a Mom really does come in handy. My mother hastily sat my sister down on the toilet and began to staunch the flow of blood from my sister’s wound.

I could have done more. I could have supplied my mom with more paper towels to work with. I could have taken my sister’s now- ripped, bloody t-shirt and thrown in it the garbage. I could have asked my sister if she was okay. But all I saw was the hole in her shirt where the knife had been that now lay on the ground, and they blood stain that encircled it, and all I could think about was the fact that my little sister might be dying right before me. And suddenly, it was all I could do to stand in the doorway and numbly ask if I should call 911 or not.

My mom grabbed my sister a new shirt and we all piled into the car, hurriedly trying to get to the hospital as fast as we could. But since the nearest one was the Royal Colombian and that was about a half hour away, my sister and I sat in dead silence as my mother drove like a maniac.

Sitting in the stuffy warmth of the car, I tried feebly to imagine a life without my sister. I thought back to a few weeks ago when we were walking to the local corner store with one of my friends, my sister closely at my side. While I was chatting mindlessly away with her, I don’t think I even noticed the fact that my sister might be a little anxious. And she wanted me to hold her hand as we crossed the street, I completely ignored her. Now, with her seeming so innocent and fragile by my side, I would give anything to go back to that moment. How could I have been so selfish?

I was in the midst of imagining lonely nights of having no one to push on the swing when my sister interrupted my reverie. “What’s grade 7 like?” She peered up at me with a pair of wide-set chocolate brown eyes, much like the color of the couch I had been sitting on earlier. At first, I wasn’t really sure of how to answer this question. I could tell her about the argument I had had with my best friend the previous day, or my boy troubles, or how unfair my teacher was. But in that moment, as I eyed the white bandages that were a lump under her shirt, all I really remember is just wanting to tell my sister whatever she wanted to hear. So instead of mountains of homework and boring, endless days, I spoke of freedom and best friends and school dances and whatever I thought would make her happy. Because as I watched her worried look turn into one of happiness, it was a small way to take away some of the pain she felt, and give her hope.

Finally, we arrived at the hospital. Somehow, we maneuvered our way through the emergency room. We pushed through everyone from preoccupied nurses and doctors to broken patients in stretchers, from dripping IV’s to long line-ups. I recall thinking that it reeked of antiseptic the moment I walked in, accompanied by the ominous presence of death. I remember watching the sad, almost morbid expressions on people’s faces as they passed by. The lonely wife visiting her husband who had recently suffered a car accident, the tired-looking men and women coming to visit their elderly parents. Each of these people seemed to leave with a different expression than when they had first arrived. Some left the hospital looking relieved, satisfied knowing their loved ones would be released soon. Others left looking more worried than they had when they first walked in, burdened with the knowledge that their loved ones might never get any better.

Suddenly, I knew why I had felt the ominous presence of death when I had first walked in. It wasn’t the fact that they used white paint on the walls, or the type of disinfectant they used to clean the surgical utensils and floor tiles. It was the people that made this place sad. It was the people sitting on benches off to the side, waiting for the doctor to give them the good news. The bored receptionist waiting for the day she can quit, and find her dream job. The feeling that everyone was waiting for things to get better, a day that might never come.

Eventually, we got a room, and the doctor came in and stitched my sister up as I sat nervously in a chair off to the corner. After he had finished, he escorted my mother outside to recommend some psychiatrists regarding my sister’s anger issues after we’d explained what had happened. I wasn’t really sure how I felt about that. On one hand, I was happy she would get the help she possibly needed… But was she really that hostile? I mulled it over for while I sat fidgeting, waiting for them to reappear. I finally came to the conclusion that given what had been displayed tonight; maybe therapy was for the best. And I was almost sure of that until I looked up and saw her, lying on the bed in which the doctor had sewn her up. I watched the struggle on her face and the pain in her still-puffy eyes, and knew that she was not a hostile child. She was just a hurt little girl in need of some attention.

It wasn’t until we were inside the car that my mom told my sister she could’ve died. And it was all too true. What if she had missed her hip by an inch and the knife had plunged into her stomach? What if the knife had been at a slightly more upward angle and gone straight into her side?

My mom never really told me how she even got a hold of the knife in the first place.

The next week, my sister and I come to the same crosswalk, same street, same trip to the corner store but this time, minus my friend. She peers up into my eyes and asks as innocently as possible, “Will you hold my hand?”.

Of course, Hannah. Of course I’ll help guide you across the busy street.

I always will.

Eight months have passed since the incident. Sitting by myself in the backseat of my Mother’s black Honda Civic, I wait patiently for the return of both my Mother and Hannah as she retrieves my sister from her last counselling session.

I’ve tried my best to keep the promise I made to Hannah that day. The promise that I’d always be there for her, always help her to the best of my abilities whenever she needed me. I realize that I wasn’t there for her on the one night that mattered the most, and I’ve tried to make amends ever since. I’ve tried my best to make sure no one bullies her at school, give her a hug when she’s feeling down and be a good role model to her. The little things I do for her don’t seem like much, but so far I’d say I’d been fairly successful in keeping my promise.

Watching my Mother and sister descend down the chipped stone steps, I begin to consider how each of us have changed in the past eight months Hannah has been in counselling. When Hannah first started therapy she was reluctant to share any thoughts or feelings with her counsellor, Cindy. But in the following months, she has truly learned to express herself through talking about her anger. It also seemed as though my Mother and sister didn’t fight as much anymore. My mother had gained a different perspective on Hannah’s anger issues, and she was more willing to talk to her about how she felt. The two of them had made some incredible progress.

However, I had to ask myself how I had changed as a result of that horrible night. Maybe I’m more perceptive now; or maybe I just appreciate everything more. I don’t know exactly how that night affected me, but I do know that more than anything, I’m just glad to have my sister back. I watch as my sister strides towards the car with a grin that stretches from ear to ear and a new-found confidence I have yet to see in her until now. I welcome her return.

As we start to pull out of the parking lot, a nearby tree rustles its vibrant green spring leaves in the wind. Hannah tells my Mother and me that Cindy told her if she ever needs help again later in her life; she knows where to find it. I know that if Hannah is ever to have another episode or needs to return to counselling, then she will certainly get all the help possible. When I look at her, I see the warmth in her big brown eyes, the innocence in her smile. It’s then that I know she hasn’t changed, hasn’t become a new person. She’s just finally starting to let other people get to know the girl she`s always been, buried beneath all that rage. Cindy’s offer will forever be there, but in truth, I don’t think she’ll need it.

I know she’ll be just fine.

Paige Logheed Bio:

Paige Lougheed is a student at Earl Marriott Secondary. She is sixteen years old, currently in grade eleven. She enjoys playing the piano as well as running, and has a passion for reading and writing.

Kidshealth.org is a really good website because it has sections for parents, teens, and kids. It also has an article on how to deal with anger.  The link to the article, “How can I deal with my anger?” is http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/emotions/deal_with_anger.html#cat20124..

When Paige was 15 she wrote “Thriving With OCD” for Thrive In Life.

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COMMENTS (5) | anger management, children, communication, parenting, relationships
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Comments

5 Responses to “I Always Will”

  1. Graham Dunne
    September 15th, 2011 @ 8:57 am

    Thumbs up. It’s the small observations that bring the story to life. Keep it up Paige.

  2. Paige Lougheed
    September 21st, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

    Thank you Graham! I appreciate your support.

  3. She'sWrite
    October 18th, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

    Wow. What a wonderfully written story. I thought this was written by an adult reflecting back on a childhood memory. But no, it’s a very talented teen. You’ve got a gift, don’t ignore it, enjoy it, cultivate it. I’m sorry about the pain you’ve gone through, but these things and more will always make you stronger. From one writer to another, keep up the good work Paige.

  4. Paige Lougheed
    October 24th, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

    Thank you so, so much for your kind words! It means so much to me that people would take the time to read my story and comment on my work. I read your blog, and I have to say that you are quite a fantastic writer yourself. I’m considering becoming a journalist myself, so the idea that a journalist in Chicago actually read my story is incredibly exciting to me. Thank you again, this comment made my day!

  5. Yale Schachter
    October 25th, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

    Paige,

    You have a beautiful way with words. Your story about your sister was very well written and I can’t imagine the fear and shock all of you went through in seeing the knife inside her.

    Don’t stop writing – you have a way with words and have a true gift in instilling emotions for the reader.

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