It was late in October and the leaves had already changed their color and were beginning to let go of the branches they had clung to
for their life. They fell silently to the Earth without regret. The brilliant colors they had displayed as a group just days before were beginning to fade and upon closer exam, of individual leaves that had fallen, one could see the blemishes and scars that made each leaf a unique entity and told the story of its life.

Several, of a group of children, stopped to play in a pile of leaves that had been raked up by old man Sweeny. He didn’t seem to mind the intrusion however and sat down on his porch steps to watch the fun. Julie picked up one of the leaves and carefully examined it. She ran her hand over the blemishes and scars and tried to imagine the pain and suffering this leaf had felt in its lifetime.

She was a sensitive child and already, at twelve years of age, knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. She would be a Doctor, just like her father. Julie was an only child and was fortunate to have two loving and caring parents. She felt sorry for many of her classmates who were not as fortunate and vowed that no matter what happened to her, she would always be mindful of the disadvantaged.

She placed the leaf carefully in one of her notebooks and continued the walk home by herself. There was no one in the house when she got home, which was a bit unusual, but she didn’t think much of it at the time because her mother had told her she would be going shopping in the afternoon and it was not unusual for her to be a little late on those days that she did. Her father never got home until six-o-clock and sometimes later when there were emergencies and so Julie went to her room and began playing with her collection of dolls and stuffed toys.

So absorbed was she in her play that she didn’t realize the room getting dark. The sound of a car in the driveway brought her back to reality and she ran down the stairs to help her mother unload the groceries from the car. As she opened the kitchen door, however, she realized it was not her mother’s car but it was her father instead who had driven in. He sat in the car without moving… his head was resting on his arms over the steering wheel.

“Are you okay Daddy?” she asked, as she opened the door of his car. He didn’t answer her right away and when he finally lifted his head she could see that he was crying.

“No honey, I am not. Let’s go inside because I have something to tell you.”

She helped him out of the car and they walked into the house together. Julie’s heart was pounding as she sat down in the chair next to her father. “Please tell me what happened,” she asked, tears now falling from her own eyes.

“Your mother was in an accident. When they brought her into the Emergency Room, she was still breathing. I did everything I could to try and save her, honey, everything… but there was just too much damage, and I had to let her go. I am so sorry, honey.”

Julie climbed into the chair with her father and sat next to him, both were crying softly as the reality of their loss started sinking in. He gently stroked her hair as he realized that the love of his life was now gone and he would be responsible for raising their only daughter.

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