Self-Discovery in a Snowstorm

December 11, 2007
By Lauren Hall, Stafford, VA

The wind bit at my face and the first snowfall of the season melted straight into my chilled veins. I had been in such a rush that I had left my shoes at home, only focusing on whether or not he was okay. I had lost all feeling in my body except in my heart, which was now pulsing strongly in my ears. I skated quickly across the iced pavement and hid in the brush alongside the front of his house.
In my rush I had thankfully remembered my cell phone so I began calling him over and over again. He never answered. I then searched frantically for his best friend’s phone number. He answered with a surprised, “hello?” most likely because it was 10 pm and I had never called him before. The words came tumbling out of my mouth in choking sobs and I explained the situation. Once he realized what I was trying to tell him he promised to call him.
A few minutes later he called back, his voice sounding more panicked. He told me that he hadn’t picked up for him either.
My breathing slowed as I peaked over the bushes and watched the scene unfold in front of me. I could see three silhouettes standing upon the front stoop, one with a large dark hat which I assumed was the police officer. The other two I guessed were him and his father.
The ambulance silently turned its lights in slow rotation, seeming to linger blood red over me, threatening to reveal my hiding place. I covered my mouth with my hands and tried to steady my breathing, willing my whole being to be as quiet as possible. One figure- his father?- let out a sharp laugh which hung in the air like a forgotten balloon.

As soon as the ambulance passed by my living room window, its silent figure already looming as if it was a hearse carrying its victim, I knew. I knew that I had been fooling myself the whole time, pretending that I no longer cared about him. My eyes followed the ambulance to his house next door, but my soul was already there with him. So many unanswered questions plagued my mind, Is he okay? What happened? Is he alive? It was in that moment, time stood still and my heart stopped beating.
I had always worried about a night like this before while we were dating. Between the suicide threats on static phone lines to the haunting phrases whispered in the dark I knew it was just a matter of days before a scene like this appeared. Except this time, all I could do was pray from afar for his safety. I couldn’t hold his hand as tears streamed down his face or brush his cheek with my lips. As I crouched quietly in the bushes in front of his house, I prayed. I prayed like my life depended on it.

Once the ambulance had departed carrying him away to the hospital, I nervously approached the police officer.

“Who was that that was just taken away?” I quietly asked.

“I’m sorry, I can’t tell you that,” he replied barely looking up from his notepad.

“Please officer, he was a…friend of mine,” I pleaded, “was it the oldest son?”

“I believe so. He’s going to be fine, don’t worry,” he answered annoyed. “Where are your shoes?” he asked accusingly.

I looked down at my swollen feet in disbelief. They were so cold from the ice on the pavement that they had gone completely numb.

“I left them at home I guess,” I answered distracted. Just like I had left him, I thought.
I later learned that he had tried to kill himself. Swallowed his life away in that bottle of pills and kissed this world goodbye. At least, this is what he cared to reveal to me. Who knows if I will ever know what really happened that bitter Thursday night.

I can never understand why we need something drastic to move to action. Stories of forgiveness on death beds, calling out “I love you,” to departing trains, truth spilling out like fountains, all at the peak of a life-changing moment. So many people own up to their feelings or past when it no longer matters or worse, when it is too late. People die never knowing truth. Why is it that this world preaches for you to assert yourself and fight for your dreams but instead when challenged, people cower in their corners using their excuses as their defense shield?
It was later once I was safely home, soaking my feet in scalding hot water and crying out in pain as my feet gained feeling that I decided I would tell him. I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. I was still very much in love with him.
But days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. I was one of those cowards I despised so much. I would gaze forlornly as he passed me by in the hallways, trying his hardest to ignore my presence. He was so close; I could have easily reached out and shouted that crushing phrase. I couldn’t do it.
He once told me, “Everyone has to dream, Lauren. If you don’t then life wouldn’t be worth living. It would just be absent of purpose.” These words have stuck in my head, repeating on a never ending record. Although things for us ended on a bad note, I’ve seen that he has found his dream. I know that he has finally figured out his purpose. I realized that by keeping my love for him a secret he had grown up and away from me. He is finally becoming the person I had been pushing him to be. And that is worth all the hell I ever had to go through.

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