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Taking Advantage

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I wish I could be one of those people who do not take anything for granted and enjoy every moment of every day. I want to be able to wake up to the song “Good day, Sunshine” by The Beatles and make my way to the kitchen to grab a cup of sugar-infused coffee in my mug that simply has the word love painted smack dab in the center of it. Maybe I could even stop myself while hectically getting ready for school and thank God for all the wonderful friends and family He has placed in my life and all the health and happiness He has given me. A journal would be nice in this situation too. You know, one of those leather bound ones with golden rims on the pages and fancy designs on the cover. The ones that people write their feelings in because there is no way in the universe that their feelings could be expressed in words. I could offer to make breakfast for the family because I like to make people happy – maybe some sunny side up eggs with a side of crispy bacon. Mostly, I want to be able to lie down in the middle of a barren field with nothing but darkness and the reflection of starlight in my eyes and think about how much I appreciate life. I think a better topic to ponder would be how much I don’t understand it, and how the limits of time and space engulf my being and determine the actions I make before I go to the so-called heaven.

Here’s the thing, though. I’m not one of those people. I would like to be, but the toll of school work and the distraction of petty teenage problems distract me from being the person I ultimately want to be. Maybe it is impossible to completely appreciate every second of every minute of every hour of every day. I understand that, especially because life isn’t a perfect form of being. Life is a maze that corners us in many cases, and it is up to us to find our own solutions. My mother always said, “No one in the world can make you happy besides yourself,” and I heed those words to this day. Others can influence the way I feel at certain moments of the day, but in the end it is up to me to make something spectacular out of myself. It is up to me not to blend in with the people who settled for below-average standards. I don’t want to be like that. I want to rise above it all and think about more than the next dress I’m going to wear to prom or the next Latin test I need to study for. I want to be able to know I lived a substantial life when I am sitting in my rocking chair with grandchildren in my lap and a lifetime of stories in my head.

Today, I found out that I woman I once knew passed away. Or no, I should say died. People only say passed away to avoid the horrible feeling they get when they hear the word die. I don’t blame those people, but I am not trying to be delicate about the subject. Anyways, her name is Eva. I’ve known her since I was a little girl, and I even remember playing Legos with her son who was only about a year older than me. She had many problems in her life. She really did. She was an alcoholic and her husband was non-existent half of the time to help support her children. However, I still admired her because she was always nice to me, and that was all that really mattered. A few years later, her son (who I hadn’t seen in years) informed me that she had cancer. I was totally shocked, and horribly sorry for her son at the same time. I really wanted to hug him, but something held me back. I went home and prayed for her; I really wanted her to get better. Days went by and I promised myself that one day I was going to throw my jacket on and go visit her. More days went by and I just eventually forgot. Today I found out she died, and a feeling of guilt overwhelmed me before the sympathy settled in. Shame ran through my veins as I thought of all the times I was lying around the house looking for some friends to go out with instead of sitting by her side and recounting memories we once had many years ago. I can’t console myself in this situation. How could I? Completely forgetting about her and her illness can’t be twisted in any way to make it sound like it was OK. Why don’t I appreciate the people in my life more? Why don’t I understand life and why can’t I accept that death is inevitable? Does death even exist, or is Eva starting a brand new life? I don’t think anyone can answer these questions.

Senior year is approaching, and I’m scared that I have not appreciated the people in my life enough. I’m not so scared about those people in my life physically dying as I am about ending the year with the knowledge that I somehow didn’t do everything in my power to make them feel special. Maybe that’s corny, but maybe that’s what creates peace and love in the world. I could have been one of the people in Eva’s last thoughts before she passed away. She could have felt content that she had a friend who sat by her side and someone to share her last laughs with. But I didn’t do any of that, and I think this guilt is permanent. It might eventually fade, but remnants of it will always be there. Maybe a situation will arise one day where I can show someone else how much I care about them, and when that day comes, I’ll dedicate it to Eva.





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