The smell of the USATC medical facility brought back terrible memories for me. The sight of my daughter falling from the bars, clipping out of consciousness flashed through my mind. When I had to tell my daughter that her dream was over, and the desperation and loss on her face will forever be etched in my mind. Walking with my daughter's hospital bed as they wheeled her in for experimental surgery to save her dream, all these memories came flooding back to me with that smell.
As I rounded the corner I could hear Lauren squeal "you slept with him, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god". What I heard next made my heart stop. "Lauren quiet down, I don't want the entire world knowing I lost my virginity last night." Those words were spoken by my daughter's voice. I could barely make out the rest of the words spoken. I'm not sure if I was having a heart attack or if it was something else, but I'm positive my heart did stop.
As my vision started turning from clear to red, I stormed into Lauren's room. Lauren saw me immediately, but Payson didn't realize I was there until I grabbed her arm. Her face went from a smile to ghostly white, as I dragged her from the room and kept walking. Once we got to my car, I opened the passenger side door and told her to get in. She complied without a word and got into the car, and I slammed the door behind her. I got into the car and just started to drive.
About a half hour into the drive Payson started to talk. "Dad.." "Payson I don't want to hear it, be quiet." Payson was quiet for the rest of the two hour drive back to Boulder. When I got in the car, I had no idea where I would be driving to, but my brain must have automatically decided to go home. There were times when I just wanted to pull over and scream at my daughter, others where I wanted to pull over and listen to her story. Something inside of me knew I couldn't handle this alone, so like my daughter I stayed silent for the rest of the ride back to Boulder.
When I pulled into our driveway I relaxed a little bit as I saw Kim's car in the driveway. I knew I would have to talk to my daughter when we got to the house, and hopefully Kim would make this a bit easier. I turned to Payson " Get in the house". She got out of the car, and walked into the house without a word. I was not ready for what was about to come.