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Uncle Mark

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The majority of thirteen year-olds who find themselves in their eighth grade year are absorbed in the idea that (hopefully) they are going to high school, getting their license, and finding their high school sweetheart. They’re eager to be growing into the adults they assume high school will make them, and going to the colleges of their dreams. They’ve only thought through few of the years before them as if four years would be enough to last a lifetime, while the minority spends their time worried about what will happen after. As much as it pains me to admit it, I was part of that majority until February 28th of my eighth grade year, the day my uncle died.

I was playing guitar the night I found out that Uncle Mark was dead. I was still learning how to put chords together to create my own melodies. My mom rushed into my room, interrupting my already troubling transition from a G major to an A minor. “Your uncle was found dead in his apartment.” Then, she left. For a short moment, I entertained the idea that this encounter was completely imagined, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me to believe that. It was a very difficult statement for me to grasp as it rang in my mind like some ominous chord. How is it that someone can just disappear quicker than they can come to life? That’s when I became the minority; when I realized that everything that begins must eventually end. The thought crept its way into my full attention: One day I’m going to die.
The fear for that unknown date of expiration became overwhelming. I had my first panic attack. I couldn’t breathe but I could think. I couldn’t speak. I could only sit there in mourning over my own inevitable death. So much I had taken for granted, the days I overslept and lost in time’s hourglass, the chances I never took all were haunting me. All the time I had wasted and planned to waste was frightening. I was obsessed with what I had done, what I was doing, and what I was planning to do. What would I be in life? Would my life be meaningful? Would I be able to look back and feel I had lived life to its fullest? The unknown was too much to fathom: the forever after.
Religion and Science had an all-out war in my mind to which I had full press coverage. I was my own mind’s prisoner of war for the next week. I lost my appetite, all control over my emotions, I had frequent panic attacks, and I couldn’t go to school. I stayed at home with my thoughts. I didn’t know what to do to get all of my thoughts to stop and I was too afraid to confront someone about them. What if I’m the only person in the world who’s realized this? I calmed down enough to come to the conclusion that I should consult my father, the wisest person I know, about all my fears and questions. What he said to me I’ll never forget: “When dealing with the idea and concept of religion, you have to understand that it’s built on one principle: faith. You have to have faith that there lies an eternal place beyond this entire world where my brother and all other loved ones reside. You have to have faith in the people around you and in their intentions, but most of all; you have to have faith in yourself. You have to live your life for your own happiness to some degree.”

All the fear inside of me dissolved. I knew where I was going in life and how I was going to get there and that there were two paths I was destined to take: music or medicine. I changed into the person many people spend years trying to become. I am consumed by material things anymore. Money, cars, houses, and vacation houses: they were of no value to me. Life doesn’t have a meaning, its purpose is to make the time and life I have meaningful. What matters to me is happiness, not the kind I can siphon off of cheap thrills, but the kind of happiness that’s absolutely pure. Life’s more than about only my own happiness, life’s also about all the other people’s lives you can bring some sense of happiness to as well. And all the while, I carry and believe the idea; I carry my own faith with me.





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