April 13, 2010
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We begin in life depending on others to take care of us. Throughout out lives that dependency doesn’t go away, but changes form. Now, instead of turning to others to change our diapers, we come to them with questions about life, and ask for advice about problems we’ve encountered. Then, almost as though in a race, life has sped by us. We’re right back to where we started, waiting for our diapers to be changed, and food to be pureed so we can eat.

You could say life begins in kindergarten, where we make our first friends, learn right from left, and sing the alphabet. Soon there’s Cinderella- and Spiderman-themed birthday parties to go to, and money to be found under pillows. Then, Santa comes with presents galore, and later eggs filled with sweets are hidden all over the house. What comes next is my favorite…the looks of absolute wonder as little kids watch different colors light up the night sky for the first time.

There are many “firsts” that can easily be forgotten once we’ve done them over and over again, or once we’ve moved onto something else in our life. Saying that look back and try to remember…what was it like the first time you rode a bike? Your first day of school? First football game? First holiday dinner? First friend? As time wears on, we forget the little things that make us who we are.

While we advance in age, there are secrets to be kept, friendships to be made or lost, and the realization of the opposite sex. Also, as we grow older, we mature, become more responsible for our actions, and learn from our mistakes. Around this age, I mean during the teenage years, we begin to look for employment opportunities. From there, we find vehicles and can’t wait to rid ourselves of the two people who’ve sheltered, fed, and protected us our whole lives. Even though we can’t wait to get out, there’s something holding us back, keeping us in check. It’s everything we’ve learned over the years. Our values, hopes, morals, and dreams push us forward until we are not just the person we wanted to become, but better.

SAT and ACT scores gain us entry into colleges of our choice. Scholarships, grants, and loans help us begin our new lives. To earn our keep, we sit through lectures and take what we can from them for notes. Pulling all-nighters to study for exams, eating ramen noodles and pizza night after night, we fall into a routine that’s only broken when a party comes along. With classes and part-time jobs by day, and studying and partying by night, our time at college really seems to go by fast.

Eventually you find someone that makes you want to risk everything just to be with them, and soon you’re tying the knot. The big day came and went with butterflies in everyone’s stomach. Nine months later and there’s a tiny bundle at your door. Now you’re being depended on and it’s a fabulous feeling to know someone needs you.

The children have grown up and moved out. They call frequently, as they worry about us in our old age. But we’re as good as ever, sitting on our porch, holding hands like a couple of teenagers. The next few months become hard to endure…the kids lose a parent due a heart attack. The funeral fell on a damp day; the family members and friends gathered there spoke in hushed tones. All around, people were teary-eyed; as they shuffled past, sniffled their final goodbyes and condolences.

Even though the academic tests are finally over, we still have one last test to face. The test is simple enough…be happy, have fun, enjoy life, give thanks for what you have, and live. Live like there’s no tomorrow.

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