When I walked through that lonely door at the end of the hallway, the first thing I noticed was the odor. Then I heard the whispering. I walked in and everyone stopped and stared. It was a little over two years ago. I walked to the edge of the bed, and I soon discovered that nothing would ever be normal again. There, lying on that stiff, white, hospital bed, was my father. He looked at me with his yellow, glazed eyes and my aunt said,” Kayla’s here.”

Everyone around me was talking, but I stayed close and held his hand. My brother stood on one side of the bed, I on the other, and we had to tell him it was okay to let go. I watched his breathing very carefully and soon his respirations became irregular. Someone nearby called for the nurse. I leaned over on him and cried like I was three years old again.

My father died of colon cancer on May 5th of my freshman year. That year was no doubt the worst of my high school career now that I look upon it as a senior. I had never failed a class, and that year I did. Then it came back to me that I was the high honor student in school, and my parents were very proud of that.

One day, I decided finally to change my behavior. I remembered how everyone was saying “Let your dad rest. He has been suffering and fighting brave and hard, and has not given up.” I finally realized that the example of how to improve my life had been in front of me the entire time. My dad had fought and struggled to survive his disease, and by fighting it and suffering to live another day with his family, he had taught me in the clearest possible way that I should never give up, that I can do anything I set my heart to, and that he would be there every step of the way no matter how far heaven is. I made up my mind. I would work to be that shining, honor roll student again. My grades started to improve, I continued cheerleading, played summer soccer, and joined the Future Business Leaders of America. I have achieved honor roll again and I am now working to graduate with distinguished credits.

More than any other milestone I have reached I am proud of the changes I have made in my life and the success I have worked to achieve. I owe all of my strength to my father. His struggle with cancer became a model for my own struggle to rebuild and reclaim the path of my future and my independence. Still today, I continue to fight. I fight to push myself in preparing for college. Dealing with my father’s death has made me believe that I can take on and overcome any challenge. I hope that one day, several years from now, he will be saying, “I am proud of my daughter. She’s been fighting brave and hard, and has not given up.”

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