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My Still World
When tragedy strikes, the world seems to stop. People move, leaving streaks in the air behind them. The mouth, the eyes, and the heart of the victim become dry, begging for mercy. Sometimes tragedy means it’s over, but sometimes tragedy is a new beginning. Struggle found me at a young age, and we became friends.
The moment my earth stood still for the first time, I was just a child. I stared out the window, on the calm night. I looked, watching the bugs become visible in the dull ray shown by the street light. I began pondering sweet nothings and wishing upon stars. I realized this was the last time my child mind would think of such innocent careless thoughts.
I had stayed up the whole night agonized in pain. The weeks prior blurred into my mind, for I knew I was not right. I woke up that morning, feeling different. It was about four in the morning, as the headlights flashed across my wall. My small hands rubbed my small eyes, revealing my world as I arose on that somber morning. The air felt heavy as I made the trip downstairs.
I’ll be okay. I forced myself to believe. I got distracted off into the night, as I felt my mom touch my small shoulder, jolting my still world into a spinning reality. Her fingers have never felt so soft. She had overwhelming passion in her voice.
“ You’re sick honey, we have to go to the hospital.” I looked her in the eyes and tears strolled down her face, as if on a mission. I wanted to tell her no, I wanted to say I wasn’t sick, but there was no use in fighting her. Even a child could see that tragedy had entered deep inside her eyes.
Just then I was picked up and thrown from my carefree childhood into a world I wish I never knew. My finger became raw, as the ancient finger prick forced blood to the surface. I was about to learn why my mother was so upset. I was about to learn what fear truly feels like. My mother grabbed my hand. She grabbed it so tight, like if she held on hard enough this would all disappear. The meter began the count down to reveal my fate. I closed my eyes to find my courage in extreme fear. My thoughts shot through my mind as my heart tried to keep up with the emotion I could taste in this room. The curtains even looked sad, they drooped toward the floor, weeping. They remained oddly still with every passing stranger, as if they were showing respect for my situation. The room was deathly still as the countdown finally reached zero.
I opened my eyes. The look on my family’s faces will stay with me forever. Fear was so apparent; it trickled from my eyes, dried my mouth, and shocked my heart. My earth was still again. My questions over powered my fear as my mind shut down. I thought about running, I knew something was wrong. I wanted to run, and never stop. I wanted to empower my feet, and just run. I didn’t know where I would want to go, but I knew I didn’t want to be here. I was still just a child. Children don’t belong in hospitals.
“ This isn’t so bad mommy,” I said smiling. “I can do this.”
“Really?” She asked, voice cracking.
“Yeah, how much longer until it goes away?”
Her eyes went blank, she looked at the hospital ceiling, wall, and then floor, searching hopelessly for an answer. Her face went white in contemplation. Her mouth forced out words as impervious as the disease I was just diagnosed with. Tears wounded her rosy cheeks, but her voice was strong. My mother looked me dead in the eyes, and said something unforgettable.
“Never,” she broke down, “you will have this forever.”
She left the room, and she took my smile with her.
The world was still once again, my stomach churned, as it tried to digest the unknown. My tears felt like fire as the emotion exploded from my dry eyes. This was just the beginning. The doctors shuffled in slow motion, burning hopes and dreams with every step. My heart was beating slowly, like a bass drum. It kicked to every word I couldn’t understand. It stopped when my music stopped, it stopped when I was alone.
Syringes punctured my perfect skin, leaving blemishes. This hurts, I cried to myself. I lay in the hospital bed alone, making friends with my questions. I wished away the afternoons with childhood dreams, trying to understand the word “forever” in my young mind.
I looked like a skeleton, my weight was rotting away. My disease had been agonizing me so long, I had dropped down to thirty two pounds.
“ Why aren’t her legs growing?” My mom would say.
My ribs poked through my skin like little rulers. Teachers asked if I was being fed at home. I was fed at home, but not at the hospital. Foolishly dieted, my body ached for fat.
“Daddy, I’m so hungry.”
My father appeared with my favorite food, chicken nuggets. I was overcome with joy, something I hadn’t felt in a while. Just as my dad reached to hand me the bag, the nurse stormed in and ripped it from my small, bony, pale hands.
“ She can NOT have that.”
I realized I was no longer a child. I was lost in a juvenile desperation. My world was still again, I screamed and kicked to express my frustration. I cried for hours, and I threw tantrums. If I had known what I was in for, I would have kicked and screamed louder and longer than anyone could imagine. I would have cried through my sleep, and would have never stopped. I would have cried more tears than I could count at that age, I would have cried for every time I would be stabbed by a needle, and for every time I would end up in the hospital in my near future. If I had known what was going to happen in my life, I wouldn’t have gotten out of that hospital bed.
As children, we saw the world differently, we found the good in everything. We minimized the stress for not only ourselves, but also those around us. We created light, even in the darkest of times. There was a little sparkle in our eye. We hoped and played carelessly, and had dreams of incredible measures. Our mind spanned across the oceans, and touched each continent with thoughts of our future. We were made of innocence, and infinite imaginations.
What happens when a child is robbed of this essence? Are they still a child? The twinkle has turned into a dark, fearful place. They can only create enough hope to get by. Sharing is no longer an option. What happens when that child is the root of the stress, not only for themselves, but also the people around them? That was me. I was no longer the care-free child. I was no longer left with people other than my family. I brought fear into every room I entered. The only fearless I encountered were the ignorant. I was introduced to a new world, a world of unpredictable, a world of questions, and a world of fear.
True fear makes seldom appearances. It consumes your mind, soul, and body. It picks through your mind thought by thought, dismembering them. It watches the victim, and waits, to infect it’s tragedy in an unrecoverable place in the mind. One can try to forget it, cover it up, and move on, but it will always be there. Day or night, it will always be there.
One morning my mind woke up, but my body didn’t. My eyes moved rapidly, contradictory to my frozen petrified face. I tried to scream but I couldn’t get my mouth to move. I’m dying I thought, but I didn’t give up. I used all my energy trying to yell, making my body jerk and my eyes to no longer see. I returned to consciousness after an unprecedented amount of time. My mind was screaming, but my mouth was silent. I cried, and cried, and cried. That was all I could do. My battle that night finally woke my father. I heard him speak slowly.
“Jess! Jess are you okay?” I couldn’t respond, no matter how hard I tried. My disease had tied me up and muted me, it took everything but my mind that night. It left me the horrible memories I must live with everyday of my life. I remember one thing distinctly, when the world was more still than it had ever been before. During the struggle, I found enough strength to turn my heavy head. I saw my mother’s outline standing in my doorway. She was dismayed, the look she had, I had seen seldom before.
Even a child could see that tragedy had entered deep inside her eyes.
“ You’re scaring me, Jess,” she said as tears streaked black down her cheeks. Her tears froze in the air and splashed on the ground like an icicle. I didn’t want to scare anyone. Mom, I’m okay. I’m fine mom, I’m alright. You don’t have to be scared. I wanted to tell her, but my mouth wouldn’t move. The words wouldn’t come out.
Just then I gave up and closed my eyes, and drifted away. I’m scared too mom, I thought.
My world as I knew it remained still for days. Questions multiplied in my mind like seconds in every minute. At that time, I realized that my life was out of my hands,, out of my control. I realized my disease has the upper hand, and the power to manipulate my body anyway it pleases. Not only does my disease have the power over me, but it controls the thoughts of those around me.
Sick children need hope, they need a dream. Sick children need an outlet, a non-human friend to turn to. Whenever I touched the ball, my illnesses disappeared. My disease melted into the court, my pain dissolved into the lines. My life was perfect on that court, and I thought it would always be that way. I was wrong. My disease was always changing things. It made difficulty a daily experience for me. Very rarely did it take things from me. I was never taken seriously. People would see tubes hanging off me, and would label me. This was the worst it had ever been, my coaches laughed in my face. My disease would slowly alter me during practice, and I would be foolishly punished. Misunderstanding lurked over me as I was reprimanded for the uncontrollable. I would watch as all my team mates would check into the game, as I still sat the bench. The game would end, and I was the only player with my warm up still on, and anger raged inside of me. Playing since I was young, basketball had always come natural to me. Unfortunately, my disease stilled my world long enough to grab hold of my dream, tear it to shreds, and throw it in my face.
My dreams had transformed from complex and childish, to one very simple dream. My new dream was to live a full life. A healthy life was no longer an option. Sickness will always float above me as a cloud. It rains despair and struggle on top my head. My strength is my umbrella. It allows the rain to roll off my shoulder, but the heavy hail of struggle bruises and dents my tough skin.
I never had the chance to be a care-free child. At a young age I saw that life is not fair, and I would always have to work hard to stay alive. I watched as my life transformed in front of me. My still world made me a spectator of my suffering body. I saw myself transform from scared and fearful, to powerful and determined. When I look in the mirror, I still see tragedy in my eyes. I see tragedy in my mother’s eyes, but if I look hard enough, I also see strength. Type 1 diabetes had me my entire childhood, but now I have diabetes.