Eternal Sleep, Eternal Regret

Numerous people are entering a vast front entrance, all sporting smiles on their faces and cheerfully shouting “Hi!” as they hug the people around them. In the same room there are couches, and tables piled with people’s cups. The air is boiling from the body heat in the room, despite the icy breeze spiraling in from the doors every time someone enters. The date is in December, and I am seven. My friends romp around the room playing tag with merry expressions on their faces. It seems like a fun get together, or some sort of party, until leaving the main room, with its booming blurs of everyone’s conversations, and attend to the one adjacent to it. In the other room there is a casket, and in this casket is the corpse of my father. His death has had a huge impact on my life, and my memories of his wake are those which I regret the most, yet cherish most dearly as they haunt my thoughts and fill my life with a certain sense of remorse.

I am seven, and I enter this silent and somber room screaming. In a full-fledged run toward my mother, I slam into her legs as a neighbor boy chases me and I scramble behind her for protection. The tacky watercolors framed on the walls vibrate softly against the plain-colored walls, as our thumping feet tear across the thin floor like an earthquake. My heart drums loudly in my ears, as I am tired from running around on my little legs, and the gel of sweat casts my hair into spasms of curls around my flawless child forehead. The quiet and sad people in the room are all standing around viewing photographs of the man in the casket grinning with the heartbeat of life, which are posted on boards that smell of glue sticks. I see myself in some of those pictures, my dad holding me tightly in a fatherly embrace, smiling with vivid adoration of his daughter. I never told my dad I loved him, for no other immature reason other than that he was a boy, and loving boys is for adults only. The solemn people cast me looks of ridicule and my mother curtly says, “Melissa, this is not the place for this,” so I retreat to my friends, and as they tag me, I tell them we have to calm down. My gang and I walk up to the velvet-lined casket and gaze upon my fathers pale face. The smell of roses and other flowers is so strong and overwhelming around the coffin, and it lingers in my mind for all of eternity with the remembrance of my father. I giggle, not really understanding that the person in the casket is my father, and that he is dead, and what death even means. “I dare you to touch him,” I elbowed my neighbor. “No way, you touch him!” I hope sincerely I have matured since then, for joking about the corpse of my deceased father lingers as part of my regret factor. After pushing each other around to touch the corpse, my neighbor finally succumbed and pressed lightly on the man’s hand, and shrugged in response, “Just feels like skin”. So the gang and I went into the boisterous room again and decided we needed a drink after all of the running around we had been doing. We plop down on one of the couches, sighing, and reach for a glass of water. After the first sip, my neighbors and I all looked at each other funny, while my other friends gulped greedily. “This water tastes funny,” I wrinkled my nose, and my neighbors all nodded in agreement. My neighborhood is in the woods, with our own well water, so city water was shocking the first time we tasted it. After that lost its excitement, we retreated down the curvy stairway to a little room with many plants, more couches, and the restrooms, where we all split up into our gender sections. The girls and I stood gazing in the scratched mirror, talking about our crushes. When we returned to the boys, they held out a crunchy brown paper towel with a thick, foamy, pink substance on it. “Look! Someone was killed in the bathroom!” one of them shouted. I inspected the paper towel closely. My senses were overwhelmed with the scent of cheap soap. “It’s soap, stupid,” I teased them, as they continued to claim it as blood.
After a time of people hugging me, bidding their farewell, and my friends being dragged home to bed, I plop myself onto one of the hard couches with my itchy dress sprawling around my legs, and complain to my uncle. “I wanna go home and play with my toys,” I announced, like an annoying brat from a frustrating movie in which you want to throw stuff at the delusional child. About a week after his wake, and his funeral, I cried at my father’s absence for the first time since he died.
I began drawing pictures of him under rainbows with my deceased goldfish, scribbling in illegible childish writing “I love you daddy” all over the place. Now the bullies at school who made fun of me because of my fathers bald head and scratchy voice – due to chemo and his cancer – will be my friends instead. Now everyone talks about their parents, and I only talk about my mother, and I don’t even have the option of having the opportunity to be a normal child with a dad. Other people complain about how bad their dad is and wish he was dead (usually this is said for no reason other than not getting their own way), but they don’t understand how grateful they should be they still have one that is not gone forever, they are blessed with opportunity’s that I will never have. My father’s death from throat cancer, when I was seven years old, made a huge impact on my life. The childish and immature way in which I acted at the wake is something that I will never get over. It was the first time in my life that I realized the permanence of death, and the undeniable absence of a loved one. Guilt and regret overwhelm my mind forever, and I can never fix my mistakes, and can never be, “daddy’s little girl”.

Eternal Sleep, Eternal Regret


Stillwater, United States

  • Artist
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Artist's Description

descriptive essay regarding memories of my deceased father, who died when i was 7. this essay takes place during his wake, and the memories that haunt me forever.

Artwork Comments

  • melynda blosser
  • Damian
  • indeterminacy
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