This I Believe

Xin-Yu - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on December 13, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: love

Fairy tales. People believe in them when they were little. I believe, too.

I believe in a “once upon a time.” I believe the prince and princess could live happily ever after. I believe I could reach my dreams and nothing would stand in my way. I believed… until the news of my great grandmother’s death echoed in the dark, silent car.

I was not close to her. I did not even know her name. I saw her only twice a year, at the most. She was a small woman with a crooked back. My dad told me she had carried the burden of supporting the family when she was young. I felt respect for my great grandmother even though I could only partially understand her dialect.

That night, I was surprised when I felt a punch in the stomach as I arrived at the sickening thought that my great grandmother will never be able to fondly hold my baby sister, the “American” great granddaughter she never saw. “So much for fairy tales,” I thought as I threw my 11-year-long belief into the dark chasm in the back of my mind. I felt the grief. I felt the disappointment as reality condemned fairy tales as lies. That day, I saw nothing except sadness and evil in the world. I knew I could not preserve my innocence forever. I mistook fairy tales for the constant state of happiness.

Days after I locked away my belief, my sister began to say her first words. As she repeated the familiar sounds back to me, I remembered the day she was born. I remembered the mixed feelings I had. Jealousy, because I thought she took away love, once belonged only to me, from my parents. Love, because I admired the miracle of life. Fear, because I was responsible to shape her personality and future. Nevertheless, my sister’s arrival was a turning point in my life. She brought happiness into our family like a shedding light in our path, leading us into the future.

By comparing the birth of my sister and the death of my great grandmother, I realized happiness never evaporates from the face of this earth. The miracles of life and death, the opposition of love and hatred, and the perfect circle of ying and yang all play parts in the never-ending cycle. Because of the sadness we experience, we are able to feel the potent power of happiness. The princess goes through obstacles in life before reaching the happy ending.

“That’s not how the fairy tale ends,” I used to cry out at my every defeat. But now, I know exactly what to answer when my sister exclaims the same. “Cindy, this is not the ending, but merely the beginning of your own fairy tale.”