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Dad's illness leads to daughter's awakening

"Oh Lord, I just want him to die. Just let him die so I can have my mom back. Please Lord; I just want my mom to come home at nights again ..."

"Angeline. Angeline -- are you OK? Are you awake?"

The air that's been spinning around me comes crashing down and stops! I'm in a classroom at Houghton Academy. Faces are turned toward me, but I don't see more than eyes; a million eyes staring at me, questioning me, accusing me.

I burst into tears and hide my face in my hands. I'm not embarrassed. Everyone thinks I'm crying because my father has leukemia and is dying. But they don't know as much as they think. I'm crying because I'm ashamed. How could I be so selfish?

My dad was diagnosed with leukemia when I was 15 years old. For two years he was cooped up in Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. We went to visit him after school sometimes. It was a long drive; over an hour and a half one way, then all the way home again. We had to wear those blue masks you pinch to your nose to make fit. They itched. Sometimes we couldn't even go into his room; we could only wave through the window. I hated going there. The drive was boring, the elevator made me sick, and the hospital smelled like canned ravioli.

My mom stayed at the hospital as much as she could. She slept on a hard, two-cushion, pull-out bench and held my dad's hand every chance she got.

That meant she wasn't home. My sister was older, so after school she went to work, and my brother was younger, so my mom's friend picked him up and he stayed at their house most of the time. I went home. I would heat up the food that the neighbors had brought to help our family through "the tough time" and my mom had stored in the freezer, and I would eat in the big, empty dining room, alone.

How could I be so stupid! So blind! So self-absorbed!

While my father sat propped up in a hospital bed with IVs in his arms, radiated blood pumping into his veins and every ounce of energy being sucked out of him, all I could think about was how poor, little me had to eat alone.

Right there at the table, on top of my frozen lasagna, I started crying.

"God, I don't really want him to die!" I begged God to forgive me of my selfishness and heal my dad.

A week later the doctor declared my father to be in remission; the cancer was gone. My dad jokes and says that when he thought of my mom remarrying, his body decided he had to live and kicked the cancer to the curb. But the truth is, I think God knew I still needed him in my life.

If you asked me when I became a Christian, I would tell you it was when I was 5 years old, lying in bed, trying to buy more time to stay up that night. But if you asked me when I came to know the Lord, I would say September 2006, when I realized someone else was more important than I was.

Dad is now 52. He plays racketball, rides his four-wheeler through the woods, and snowboards five days a week in winter! Now I watch him hold my mom's hand every chance he gets. He is a proud grandpa and the best dad anyone could ever ask for.

I can't imagine what life would be like if I had lost him in 2006. Boring, I would guess.