Life is like a Box of Chocolates

December 17, 2007
By Courtney Fiene, Delafield, WI

It’s remarkable how a few days can shape the rest of your month, or how a few months can shape the rest of your year, or how a few years can shape the rest of your life. Just when you believe you have a hold on what’s going on around you, it slips through your fingers. It seems like the harder you squeeze the more likely it is to leak from your grasp. There’s all those clichés about life, made by people trying to understand it. “Life’s never fair,” “Life is like a box of chocolates,” “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” and “Live and let live,” are just a few. However, these aren’t always true for everyone. Not everyone has an unfair life, not everyone has an assorted life of chocolates, not everyone can make lemonade when the lemons are too sour, and not everyone let’s others live. It’s quiet a surprise how many different ways life can be lived and described. I do not argue with anyone on their view of life, but this is mine.

I have always had a satisfying life, so I won’t waste time explaining my childhood. That isn’t what this is about. That is my first thought on life. I think sometimes it is good to really concentrate on the bad things that happen. Just long enough to learn a lesson. After that it is best to move on and heal. In this case the “bad thing” involved my youngest brother. I am the oldest sibling of four. I appreciate every one of them. They all affect me in a different way. My brother, Jimmy, is 15 and reminds me of how I was two years earlier. My sister, Brianna, is 10 and it is always fun to dress her up and do her hair when she is excited for a special event. Last, is my smallest brother, Sammy. He is just about the cutest five-year-old there is. In fact, currently, he is missing all his front teeth and smiles to show everyone. He has the highest spirits of anyone I know. He is strong and rambunctious. He can physically and mentally tolerate a lot of pain and pressure for a kindergartner. Unfortunately, he didn’t gain these attributes by living a simple life.

When I was in 8th grade Sammy was diagnosed with a very severe case of pneumonia. But, that doesn’t matter. When someone you love is threatened with something like their life, the reason doesn’t matter; it’s getting rid of the threat that consumes your mind. The story of the tests and results and constant advising of the doctors doesn’t matter either. It is a mere blur in my mind anyway. Those are the things you tend to remember, even though you don’t need to.
The one detail I will share is how my brother fought. My mom stayed in the hospital with him night and day. Seeing him lying in that hospital bed, with my mother weeping next to him, was unbearable. He was so small for his age, and the huge white sheets seemed to engulf his helpless body. He had tubes coming out from his arms and chest, and he was always sound asleep with the exhaustion of crying for so many grueling hours. His lungs were full of liquid as a symptom of the pneumonia. He had to endure two surgeries to fully relieve his lungs.
What I am describing in a few sentences actually took weeks of sorrow, pain, and concern. That’s another thing about life: a horrific, long, agonizing event can be summed up in a couple sentences after it’s over, but no one really knows it in your eyes. No one knows the whole story, and sometimes it is best left that way. Now, all my brother has to account for his experience walking at the edge of life, is a few deep scars and the yearly checkup.
At the age of 17, I’m sure most teenagers have experienced a death or near death experience in their family. I’m sure they all can sum it up in a few sentences while living a whole different life in their minds when they think about it. And I’m sure most of them have moved on, but have also remembered what they felt they had to. After every new occurrence in life, people come up with new ways of viewing time. That’s how clichés are formed. My brother’s sickness didn’t give me a new outlook on life. I love my little brother and am thankful to still have him. I probably haven’t changed the way I live since he was sick. I don’t think I have even dwelled on it much since then either. What I have taken from that time is knowledge, acceptance, and strength. Knowledge of what I may have to deal with in the future, acceptance that there will always be hardships, and strength go on when you feel stranded.
As corny as these things sound, I think you can agree they are less corny then a cliché. What I gained wasn’t a reason or way to explain life. It was something for me. Every time you are forced to experience one of those “life-changing” events, don’t look for a way to explain it or dwell on the reason. Don’t look for a cliché out there, so you feel someone understands what you’re going through. Find something in it for you. I promise it will be a great deal more rewarding.

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