One summer day my sister Lindsay and I decided to go on a bike ride before dinner. My old home was around a hilly area, so we always enjoyed the thrill of going down the hill on our bikes. There was an especially steep hill around the corner from our house. I let Lindsay take the lead and I followed behind. I could tell she was going faster and faster as she was going down, but I thought she could handle herself. I remember watching her from behind as she pulled back on the brakes to stop. She and the bike both fell together, and with that came a cry for help. I immediately dropped my bike and rushed over to find a huge bloody scrape across her leg. I sprinted back to the house screaming for help. A few hours later we were stuck in the emergency room. The doctor told my family that the scrape was deep and that it would require twelve stitches. I felt bad for my sister and thought that this was probably the most painful event she has gone through, as she was only seven years old at the time. However, this was not the only pain my sister would have to endure later that same week.
There is always a point in your life when you feel like everything is falling apart. You feel useless and unhelpful and that there is nothing you can do about it. When I first heard that my parents were separating I thought it was my fault. My fault for getting in the way and my fault for ruining a relationship that will never be fixed. Guilt had built up in me. I thought to myself, what could have possibly gone wrong? How will my life change now? And what does all this mean? Many tears were shed when thinking that I would never have a regular family again, the same way tears were shed when my sister hurt her leg. I was ten at the time, and could not fully comprehend what this meant for our family. My parents were getting into a divorce.
About a week later after the bike accident, my parents called my sister and me down for a family meeting. Being the kid that I was, I didn’t think that was a big deal. Yet once I realized my life would never be the same, my spot on the couch seemed to stand still. I remember feeling confused and frustrated as if my parents were giving up on our family. They both agreed that it was for the better, but through my ten-year-old lens, it wasn’t. I had a million thoughts going through my head. I saw what divorce was like through my friends, and I never thought I would be in the same dilemma as them.
My sister reacted in quite a different fashion than I had towards the divorce. It did not bother her one bit. I remember directly after our family meeting she asked, “Can I play outside now?”, proving that she either understood the situation perfectly or not at all. On the other hand, there was me, processing every situation and cause, convinced the whole world was crashing down. I went back up to my room afterwards to think. I knew my parents were having arguments, but I did not realize it was going to come down to this. I could not handle the truth at my age. It did not feel real.
My sister’s leg healed quickly after her bike accident, much more quickly than it took me to even begin healing after hearing the news of my parent’s divorce. At first, I thought of what life would be like having two homes. I thought about the switching between houses every week, splitting holidays and birthdays, and the overall change in schedules of everyday life. I did not want my life to change, and most importantly, I did not want my family to feel broken. To this day my mom tells me she wanted me to be happy and have a normal life, and she would not let this divorce get in the way of it. The same way my sister did not let her injury get in the way of her life at the time. She continued to do all the activities she wanted.
While thinking in my room, I tried to think of the positives. I guess this could mean more presents on Christmas and my birthday, but I wanted to talk to my sister about this. We are only three years apart but we share a tight bond. I could tell her anything that was on my mind at any moment, and in times like this I really needed someone to talk to and a shoulder to cry on. I remember gazing out my window as I watched her wrap up her leg with a large band-aid. I watched her pull her bike out of our garage and hop back on. Was she still going to ride that bike after her injury? When I saw her do this I realized how strong she was. She hopped back on that bike after it had hurt her. We were, in fact, both hurt in different ways. She sustained a physical injury, while mine was emotional. I was hurting because news of the divorce had been thrown on me an hour before. I needed to be more like my sister. I need to hop back into reality the same way my sister hopped back on her bike. I needed to be strong, accept and respect my parent’s decision. Suddenly I no longer need my sister’s shoulder to cry on. Her actions were enough.
Throughout the years I have learned to accept the divorce more and more. I believe that it has not only changed my way of life but the way I look at life as well. It has taught me to believe that circumstances won’t bring you down as long you don’t let them. I believe that I have become a stronger person as a result of this major event in my life. A more grown perspective made me realize why the decision was made, and that the better option was to form separate happy families instead of sticking with one that isn’t. My parent’s divorce helped prepare me for the future because as I continue to mature I realize that nothing is perfect. But perfect does not define your happiness, acceptance does. My heart hurt after my parent’s divorce, but over time it healed, just like my sister’s leg.