Living With It

May 27, 2008
By Jessica Joy Rangel, Park Ridge, IL

Decision: The act of reaching a conclusion or making up one's mind. Whether we believe it or not, the decisions we make every day affect our lives and the lives around us. Every one of us has to make decisions. The problem occurs when we make bad decisions or decisions with a bad consequence. A few years ago, I made one of the worst decisions of my life.
It was a Friday afternoon and I was still in middle school. I was an eighth grader at Emerson and our rivalry school was Lincoln. Every year there was an Emerson vs. Lincoln basketball game. At the time, this was a big deal. I had been planning to go to the game for the past week and I was extremely excited. It was always really fun because I knew a lot of kids from both schools and I always enjoyed the basketball games. I already had everything planned out. School. Home. Clean. Homework. Dinner. Out. I walked into my house and started talking to my mom.
Something unexpected happened.
My mom told me that it was my grandpa’s eightieth birthday. She said that our family was going out to dinner to celebrate and that I was to come along. I was extremely upset. I didn’t want to go to dinner at all. I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy being there knowing that all my friends were having fun at the game. Right then, I made my first bad decision.
I threw a fit.
I cried about how I wasn’t going to have any input in the conversations at the dinner table, and that there wasn’t a point of me being there. I argued to my mom about how all my other friends were going to the game and that it wasn’t fair for me to not be able to go. With a little perseverance and tears, I persuaded them to let me go to the game. They told me I was old enough to make this decision and that they didn’t want to force me to go anywhere I didn’t want to. I didn’t think twice. I called my friend Nicole and met her at the game.
After that, the night went exactly as planed. I had an amazing time. Food. Music. Friends. Laughs. I didn’t think about not seeing my grandpa. I spent the whole night at the game and came home with a smile on my face. I was really glad that I got to go to the game and I didn’t care about the fact that I hadn’t said happy birthday to him. I wasn’t even bothered by the fact that I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks. Little did I know that was the last time I was ever going to see him. I didn’t think such a small decision would make such a huge difference in a week.
The next couple days were pretty normal. Nothing strange had happened until one Tuesday afternoon. I was sitting on my couch doing my homework when the phone rang. My dad picked it up and casually began to talk to my grandma.
His face changed expressions. Good. Bad. Worse.
He just kept saying, “Oh my gosh, this is terrible.” A few minutes later he hung up the phone and looked in my direction. He said “Jessica, I have some bad news. Grandpa passed away earlier today. He died in his sleep.”
My heart sank. tears. misery. blame. distress.
All I could think about was last week. I had cried to my parents about how I didn’t want to go see him. It was the most horrible feeling in the world. It felt like I had just been punched in the stomach multiple times. My face had lost all color and I had a blank expression. I felt like I had let down someone I loved. I went to a stupid basketball game instead of spending my grandpas last days with him. If I would have just gone with my parents, then I could have given him a hug and told him I loved him. I could have spent some time with him before he died. I had no one to blame but myself because I had decided to go to the game.
The next few weeks were horrible.
I was a mess. Crying. Depression. Sleep. Guilt.

It was so hard to keep myself together. The funeral was awful. Everyone I saw was crying. I couldn’t talk to anyone because when I looked them in the eyes, I started to bawl. All I could think about was my decision. I have to live with this forever, knowing that I chose a basketball game instead of spending time with my grandpa. I had no idea that that small decision that day would make the biggest difference in my life.

Days. Weeks. Months.

The first few weeks were hard. All I could think about was my grandpa. I missed him more then anything. It was hard to talk about it, but I had people that cared about me. As time went on, it got easier to deal with his death. I am now a junior in high school and I still think about him constantly.
After that happened, my whole perspective on life changed. I learned that I need to take the time to value what is most important to me. I also learned that I need to think about what I am doing before I do it. I believe it is our decisions, not the conditions of our lives that determine what awaits us. I decided that I need to be more careful with my decisions. I never knew that such small decisions could change my life so drastically.
More than anything else. Live Laugh. Love

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