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My parent, and part of me, has died

First of two parts

Don't tell me you understand how I feel! Just because you have had a significant person in your life die doesn't give you insight into my pain. Our stories are different, and you can't really understand anyway, because you're not me!

No matter what you say, there is no way our stories are the same. I am a teenager, and the person who died was one of my parents. If I sound bitter, you have figured out rather quickly that I don't think the world and life are fair. I had to sit back and watch someone I loved very much die right in front of my eyes. Having a parent die is more than just one death. A part of me died, too.

I never ever thought my parents would die until they got very old. It doesn't feel right that I have to go through life without them. When I found out my parent was sick, like most kids I believed that everything would just be okay, like it always had been. I went about my life as if nothing was any different.

At times I became rather annoyed at all the inconveniences that this illness was creating in my life. I was very upset when the focus was off me and on the sick person in the house. Not only was my parent not available to me anymore, but the care required the majority of our family's time. I actually hated to come home because I knew I would be asked to help out and do my extra share. Sometimes I got angry with my parents for shutting the door and excluding me from whatever they were discussing and deciding. If I was going to be expected to help out, I should also be included in their conversations.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks! The illness was getting worse. Strangers would come to my house and help. I felt my parents were excluding me more and more. They seemed to be acting as if nothing was wrong or, at the other extreme, as if the end of the world was about to come. I started not knowing what to expect when I walked into what used to be our home. Sometimes it actually looked more like a hospital room.

I resented the whole scene. It seemed that no matter how much I pleaded with what others called the spiritual powers, nothing got any better. I would go to school and pretend my home life was just like everyone else's, but inside I knew I was lying. I had stopped having friends over months before, and I didn't go to their houses much anymore because I had to help out more at home.

Then it happened. I came home and people I didn't recognize were in my house. The end had come, and they were waiting to tell me the bad news. I hated everyone, and the last person I wanted to see was someone I hardly knew. Yeah, when they first came, they tried to tell me they could help. I didn't want their help then, and I don't want it now! This is my problem and I want to deal with it my way . . . so now is the time for the strangers to leave. That's what I told them!

I am alone right now, trying to figure out what will happen with the rest of my life. I have a couple of friends at school whose parents have died. One died in an accident, and the other had a heart attack or something like that. Neither of them even had a chance to say goodbye.

Their stories are different from mine, but at least they can understand my anger and confusion. Part of me wants to curl up and die, too, but the other part of me is struggling with finding a way to continue living. Don't try to help me . . . I want to figure this out all by myself.

Next: When will the hurt go away?

IT! (Private thoughts of the Indomitable Teen) is written by Cecilia Tucker, a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Counseling Center for New Direction in Seminole. Tucker, who has been in counseling practice since 1979, writes this column under the guidance of a panel of teenage advisers, who approve the topics and offer their insights (in exchange for pizza). You may write her c/o: IT!, X-Press, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail Floridiansptimes.com.

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