Wendy H. and her son will be flying home to see her parents! She will also be receiving her choice of five free books. We’re so excited to be able to fly you and your son home, Wendy!
We’d like to thank all who participated in this contest! It was truly a hard to decision to pick a winner from so many worthy people.
Below is the winning essay entry.
Counting The Days
by Wendy H.
As summer chills and fall shivers a crisp hello I am reminded that I am not home. Often the feeling comes on slowly, uneasiness that I can’t place, a sadness that I can’t explain, my mind flooded by memories of childhood. “Come on, Binxy, catch up! Take a look at this.” I scramble to match steps with my Dad and see what the trail holds.
It’s been 16 years, 4 months and 8 days since West Virginia was home. In 1996 my travels broke path with my parents and I ventured out on my own in Texas. I still remember topping the Guadalupe Mountains overlooking El Paso and seeing the combined lights of El Paso and Juarez, Mexico and crying. I call my Dad in the car in front of me that holds all of my stuff for my new big girl life.
“Dad, I can’t do this. This place is huge. I want to go home. I’ve never seen so many lights before.”
Although he wants to protect me, whirl me around and drive back east, he calms me. “It will be okay, Binxy, this is an adventure! You’ll come back to West Virginia in just a few months to visit. That’s not that long.”
It’s been 494 days since I’ve seen my Dad. 494 days since I’ve given him a hug. 494 days since I watched his smile corral my attention as I catch up since our last visit, reflect on my childhood, talk about the present and dream big for the future. 494 days since my family and my Dad and my mom traveled together shorelines that Hurricane Sandy recently ravaged. 494 days since I tried to look beyond the miles etching the face of the man in front of me and see the father he was. How did he get so old?
7 days ago. Life changed. My Dad called me a week ago. “Binx.” His voice is strained. Uh oh. This can’t be good.
“I saw a vascular surgeon today. They measured my veins for when they have to put in the ports for dialysis.”
The day we knew was coming arrived. The news blazes a fierce desire to see my Dad. My homing beacon ignites with a flood of tears. I just want him. I want him to be the man who welcomed me into the world 13,189 days ago. I want him to be there for days to come. Yet a part of me knows that won’t be. We are now counting the days praying that they add up to months, years and decades more.
I’m counting the days until I can see him. 248. 248 days until the next annual family reunion. I long for my Dad. I miss him and my mom. I wish there were fewer days and miles between us and I could see my Dad, say hello, and say thank you, and goodbye – just in case there are no more days to count between us.