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Narrative Essay (Warning: slightly depressing)!


dancer09 2 / 6  
Jul 15, 2009   #1
Okay, I'm having several issues with this piece. It's a narrative essay for my Comp class.
1.) It's only supposed to be 500 words but this is 800. I'm having trouble slimming it down without letting the important details go.
2.) My professor also wants us to maintain a constant point of view--do I do this?
3.) Are there any better words I should have used?
4.) I don't know if I followed the dialogue rules

I know it is a sad piece, but please feel free to pick it apart. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

**I know the paragraphs should be indented but I'm having trouble doing it on this site, so excuse it!

___________________________

They say that hospitals have an unbearable smell to them, but the truth is, on June 30, 2009, the only thing I could smell as I was sitting in room 208 of the ICU department was nothing.

I smelled absolutely nothing.

What was masking the apparent hospital smell will never be known. Possibly, my other senses and feelings were prevailing at the time. Maybe it was the stinging of my eyes which released the salty warm tears to fall gently to the bottom of my cheeks, or the ache in my heart which seemed to antagonistically develop with each breath as I wept next to his bed. My mind was busy sorting and making sure it has each memory of him on file. I stood next to his bed, and allowed my mind to absorb every detail in his face. Lying there, he appeared so incapable with an incalculable number of tubes, yet ever so peaceful, like he had known God was coming to liberate him. I began to think back.

It was a Friday afternoon, and I had just finished my last college class of the day with nothing planned but a visit to Ottsville. I walked in the beautifully restored farmhouse which he was very proud of, and went into the living room to find him disgusted after watching a special on Michael Jackson's drug habits. He greeted me saying, "It's amazing that people will abuse their only life here on Earth. I don't know why anyone would want to take some of the tick out of their clock, and here I've been fighting for more time, for ten years."

I was snapped out of thought as the neurologist walked into the room wearing her plastic apron, mask, and gloves as her shield against the bacteria. I did not wear this ensemble. Developing an intestinal infection was the least of my worries. The neurologist's words made my knees weak and my heart heavy, and I began to drown her out with the slowing beep of his heart monitor as I was drawn in by the dropping heart rate. His heart stopped in the middle of the night.

He was brain dead.

I went outside to the hospital's garden and sat on the most secluded bench. Suddenly, I noticed that everything seemed so fake: from the two women gossiping in the garden's distant corner, to the whitened smile that the outside café waitress gave to each customer. I began to remember.

One day as my phone rang while I was babysitting, I rushed to answer it in fear that it might wake up the kids. I recalled experiencing the most meaningful phone conversation. He said, "You know life is so short, and we don't get to do this again. People seem to be so indulged with things like money and status while their time on the clock is passing. If only everyone knew how to appreciate the smaller things in life maybe..."

My thoughts came to a halt as I noticed the prettiest little bird fly down within two feet of me. It looked me straight in the eye as it jerked its head from side to side, and then took off into the clear blue sky. At that moment I instinctively rushed back inside to room 208 of ICU to find that my 52-year old father's heart stopped beating due to its strain from an infection, but he appeared to be saved and more peaceful than ever. His ten years of fighting renal cell cancer was a heroic act of strength, and he had been preparing me with some of the most important lessons of my life, as he knew there would be no "later" for him.

Maybe that unbearable hospital smell originates from the soiled linens or the sweat from the feverish patients or the vomit from the chemo patients' basins. Maybe the masking of the smell came from the pain I experienced while watching my father pass away. These people who have experienced this hospital smell may have been leaving the hospital, smelling death, but I stepped out of the hospital and into the outside world, without smelling anything. I left with the beautiful memories of my father and a set of lessons he gave me to live by, including how to live without dwelling on the little things in life, such as a hospital smell.

Liebe 1 / 542 2  
Jul 15, 2009   #2
You know, they say that hospitals have an unbearable smell to them, but the truth is, on the last day of June of June 30th 2009, the only thing I could smell as I was sitting in room 208 of the ICU department was nothing.

I smelled absolutely nothing.

What was masking the apparent hospital smell will never be known. Possibly, it could have been that all my other senses and feelings were prevailing at the time. Maybe it was the stinging of my eyes which released the salty warm tears to fall gently to the bottom of my cheeks, or the ache in my heart which seemed to antagonistically develop with each breath as I was weepingwept next to his bed.

^In reference to the bold part, are you suggesting that the salty warm tears dulled your sense of smell? For you to know it was even salty, you would have smelt it right??

Or it could have been the pit that inhabited my stomach and made me feel empty, or possibly it was because my mind was busy at work, sorting out and making sure it has each memory withof him on file. I stood next to his bed, allowingand allowed my mind to imbibe every detail inof his face.

*Imbibe is to drink...

Lying there, he appeared so incapable with an incalculable number of tubes, yet ever so peaceful, as if he knew God was coming to liberate him. I began to think back.

It was a Friday afternoon, and I had just finished my last class of the day with nothing planned but aa plan to visit to Ottsville. ****I walked in the beautifully restored farmhouse which he was so very proud of, goingand went straight into the living room to find him disgusted after watching a special on Michael Jackson's drug habits, and. he greeted me saying, "It's amazing that people will abuse their only life here on Earth. I don't know why anyone would want to take some of the tick out of their clock, and here I've been fighting for more time, for ten years."

**As I was reading this, I was unclear as to whether this was in Ottsville or still wherever you live..

Snapping me out of my thought, the neurologist walked in the room wearing her plastic apron, mask, and gloves as her shield against the bacteria . I did not wear this ensemble. Developing an intestinal infection was the least of my worries . The neurologist's words made my knees weak and my heart heavy, and I began to drown her out with the slowing beep of his heart monitor andas I was drawn in by the dropping heart rate. His heart stopped in the middle of the night and stopped delivering oxygen to the brain.

He was brain dead.

I went outside to the hospital's garden and seated myself on the most secluded bench. For the first time in my life, I noticed that everything seemed so fake; from the two women gossiping in the garden's distant corner, to the whitened smile that the outside café waitress gave to each of his new customers. I began to remember.

One day I was babysitting and my phone rang. I rushed to answer it in fear that it might wake up the kids, and I recalled having the most meaningful phone conversation that I could remember.

^Wouldn't this conversation also seem fake, seeing as how you previously mentioned the word 'everything'.

He said, "You know life is so short, and we don't get to do this again. People seem to be so indulged with things like money and status while their time on the clock is passing. If only everyone knew how to appreciate the smaller things in life maybe..."

My thoughts came to a halt as I noticed the prettiest little bird fly down within two feet of me. It looked me straight in the eye as it twirked its head from side to side, and then took off into the clear blue sky. At thisat moment I experienced the strangest feeling, and . I rushed back inside to room 208 of ICU to find that my 52-year old father's heart stopped beating due to its strain from an infection, but he appeared to be saved and more peaceful than ever. His ten years of fighting renal cell cancer demonstrated a courageous act of strength, and he had been preparing me with some of the most important lessons of my life, as he knew he wouldn't be able to later.

Maybe that unbearable hospital smell originates from the soiled linens or the sweat from the feverish patients or the vomit from the chemo patients' basins. Maybe the masking of the smell came from the pain I experienced while watching my father pass away. It would be logical to conclude that these people claiming towho have experienced this hospital smell must not have been leaving the hospital and stepping into the outside world without their father. But I was stepping out from the hospital and into the outside world with the beautiful memories of my father and a set of lessons he gave me to live by, including how to live without dwelling on the little things in life; such as a hospital smell.

*What is the essay title? And by the way, some people in the hospital actually smell 'death' so to speak. These people could also have 'smelt the death' of their fathers. Therefore, this would make your conclusion wrong.

If you want to cut down, look back at the part when you try to talk about why you could not smell anything. I think you go into way too much detail on that part.
OP dancer09 2 / 6  
Jul 15, 2009   #3
Thank you very much. In my last paragraph I sounded a little arrogant, so I changed it to say this...

Maybe that unbearable hospital smell originates from the soiled linens or the sweat from the feverish patients or the vomit from the chemo patients' basins. Maybe the masking of the smell came from the pain I experienced while watching my father pass away. These people who have experienced this hospital smell may have been leaving the hospital, smelling death, but I stepped out of the hospital and into the outside world, without smelling anything. I left with the beautiful memories of my father and a set of lessons he gave me to live by, including how to live without dwelling on the little things in life, such as a hospital smell.

**I'm not too happy with my last sentence, but I can't seem to reword it to make it sound better.
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Jul 15, 2009   #4
If you're worried about length, go through sentence by sentence striking unnecessary words and phrases.

You know,T hey say that hospitals have an unbearable smell to them , but the truth is, on the last day of June of 2009, the only thing I could smell as I was sitting in room 208 of the ICU department was nothing.

I went outside to the hospital's garden and seated myselfsat on the most secluded bench. For the first time in my life, I noticedSuddenly, everything seemed so fake: from the two women gossiping in the garden's distant corner to the whitened smile that the outside café waitress gave to each customerof his new customers .
OP dancer09 2 / 6  
Jul 15, 2009   #5
Thank you for your help :)

Here is my revision after the last comments. I'm still unsure of my last paragraph. My thoughts are kind of all over the place on it...
Liebe 1 / 542 2  
Jul 15, 2009   #6
Did you implement some of the suggestions I had made in my earlier post?

Anyways, I will look at your final paragraph. It would have been helpful if you told us what the essay title is...because perhaps then we can help you find a suitable ending??

Maybe that unbearable hospital smell originates from the soiled linens or the sweat from the feverish patients or the vomit from the chemo patients' basins.

*Later on, you talk about the smell of death abruptly. In that case, perhaps this part of your final paragraph is not needed so that the smell of death is made more significant.

Maybe the masking of the smell came from the pain I experienced while watching my father pass away.
Perhaps the pain I experienced whilst watching my father leave this world/pass away masked the infamous smell of death.

These people who have experienced this hospital smell may have been leaving the hospital, smelling deathPeople have experienced the smell of death in hospitals, but I stepped out of the hospital and, into the outside world, without smelling anything. I left with the beautiful memories of my father and a set of lessons he gave me to live by, including how to live without dwelling on the little things in life, such as a hospital smell.

^I do not get the last line. How is this smell of death a little thing?

Although this is not the track you seem to be on, this is a final sentence I could think of:

I left with the beautiful memories of my father and all the lessons he taught me. I did not smell death because his spirit is never dead. His spirit lives on with me.

^You do not have to use it. I however thought that it leaves a more powerful message about your father, rather than end the story, talking about your father, and ending the entire essay with 'a hospital smell'. You are talking about how much you cherished your father, and then ending the essay with 'a hospital smell', in my opinion, does not do justice to the honor of your father..

Let me know whadya think and sorry for your loss.
x
OP dancer09 2 / 6  
Jul 15, 2009   #7
That helps me out so much. I'm going to use what you said because I wanted to incorporate more about my father and less about the smell. I think I was trying to make too much out of the hospital smell, but it was a really bad idea of mine! Thanks for all your help, it really is appreciated!

I haven't come up with a title yet, but I'm thinking it should reflect the main idea of the story. Any suggestions?
Notoman 20 / 419  
Jul 15, 2009   #8
Wow! It is a very powerful essay. First, let me say that I am sorry for the loss of your father. I cannot imagine. This is a very strong essay and it evokes images as well as emotions.

My mind was busy sorting and making sure it had each memory of him on file.

His heart stopped in the middle of the night.

You might want a little more clarification here because it is all written in the past tense. Did it stop the night before; leaving brain dead while you were sitting with him? Did it stop later that night leaving him more vulnerable?

At that moment I instinctively rushed back inside to room 208 of ICU to find that my 52-year old father's heart stopped beating due to its strain from an infection, but he appeared to be saved and more peaceful than ever.

This sentence is pretty long and gets confusing. I'd split it up into smaller sentences. Your sentences are generally long as it is and splitting this one would give you a little more variety in length. When you say that he appeared to be saved, is that a religious reference? It doesn't fit too well here. Maybe because it seems vague. You did already talk about God's liberating him. I'd take out this reference because it would require more explanation and you really don't want to detract from the emotion. Maybe: I instinctively rushed back inside to room 208 of ICU to find that my 52-year old father's heart stopped beating. Even though the strain of an infection had beaten him, he appeared more peaceful than ever.

I agree with Liebe's revisions for for the conclusion. I think it is fine to bring the piece back to the hospital smell, but lingering on the smell makes the essay more about the odor than the loss.
yonman 6 / 47  
Jul 16, 2009   #9
Its a great essay IMO. How long have you been writing for?
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Jul 17, 2009   #10
You might also want to more clearly demarcate the time of various events. At the moment, you are at the hospital, watching your father's heart rate drop. It stops, you say, in the middle of the night, at which point you run out of the hospital, where, after a a few minutes lost in thought, you are brought out of reverie by a bird that takes off "into the clear blue sky." In the middle of the night. I think maybe you need to revise some of the tenses or some such in order to make the chronology work.
Liebe 1 / 542 2  
Jul 18, 2009   #11
by a bird that takes off "into the clear blue sky." In the middle of the night. I think maybe you need to revise some of the tenses or some such in order to make the chronology work.

^Hmm I did not spot that. Well spotted Sean!


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