I sit down, hands shaking, heart racing, palms sweaty. I slowly lift my head to meet my parents' curious gaze. My mother's brow furrowed, father's hand resting gently on her thigh, both of them looking at me like dogs waiting for their bone. I take a deep, shaky breath in, its time. I can’t wait any longer. Its been one year since I last saw them, and the grey that coats my mother's hair is more evident than before. I need to tell them, I know I need to explain everything to them, but the words just won’t escape my lips. So instead, I pull out the crumpled up letter that has been laying at the bottom of my bag since I wrote it, last month and placed it in my mother's hands.
Dear Mom and Dad,
Ever since I was six years old, you wanted me to be a doctor. You had my whole life laid out for me. I was going to graduate from High School with straight A’s and early admission to Stanford, then straight to Harvard Medical School. I always thought that was going to be my life, I believed that everything would be perfect, but that’s not what life is. Life isn’t that simple and I wasn’t aware of that until last year.
Three months into my second year at Stanford, when I found Gracie, lying on the bathroom floor, pill bottles scattered everywhere, I didn’t know what to do. I ran over to her, put my ear to her fragile chest and I didn’t hear anything but my violent sobbing. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Gracie and I were going to finish medical school together, intern at the same hospital, eventually become residents, just like you both wanted. We were going to be each others maid of honour at our weddings, have kids who would be best friends and grow old together. Her leaving me was not part of plan.
Her death, it changed me. No matter how much you or the therapist tried to help, I couldn't get past the loss of my best friend. I stopped caring. I rarely attended classes, and when I did, I couldn’t focus. The only thing that numbed my pain was alcohol. Instead of studying, I bought a fake ID and snuck into every club you could think of. I drank my worries away, and soon enough the only thing that kept me going was a bottle of vodka. When I told you both I couldn’t come home for summer break because I was volunteering at a hospital, I was sitting in my room, drinking the day away. The reason I never called, wasn’t because I was too busy, it’s because I didn’t want to disappoint you. I became so dependent on alcohol; I would do anything just for a sip. I felt like I was falling, and there was no end, no way to save myself. It wasn’t until four months ago when my friends showed up at my dorm and told me that what I was doing needed to stop. They reminded me that Gracie wouldn't want me to do this with my life, that is when I realized they were right. I needed help, I needed to change, I needed to turn my life back around. I started going to AA meetings, talking about my problems and hearing other peoples stories, I felt so much better, I didn’t feel alone. I’ve been sober for two months, which may not seem like a long time to you, but 60 days, feels like a lifetime. All there was left to do, was tell you, the most important people in my life. It’s the only way things are going to get better.
Tears threaten to roll down my cheeks as I see the look of disappointment cross my mothers face as she processes the words inside my letter.
“I made a mistake, a really big mistake, and I know that, but the only way things will continue to get better, is if I have you in my corner,” I say, looking at my parents with pleading eyes.
My mom doesn’t say anything, she puts down the letter, cups my frightened face into her soft hands and gives me a warm, loving hug. That is when I know, that it may be difficult, it will be difficult, but things are going to turn around.