I believe in tragedy. Looking back at my life so far I have found that in moments of tragedy I tended to look back and question what I have done with my life. I continually wondered if I had changed, and wondered if I happened to die that very second whether or not I could look back and say I lived a good life. Growing up, my family and I moved around a lot, staying in one location maybe only three or four years at a time. To my young mind, that was the embodiment of my life’s tragedy. However, that all changed in 2001, when my brother was diagnosed with cancer.
Though this tragedy occurred following a great tragedy here in America, 9/11, for me, my brother’s diagnosis made me reconsider my life. At the time the news first reached me, I was at home in Indonesia with my dad, and my mom and brother were in Singapore. I remember sitting on my brother’s bed when my dad told me the news. It’s not one of those things you expect to hear about someone you care about, and I am sure that many people have felt the same way I did if they have ever heard that sort of news. My brother’s cancer threw me for a long and winding loop. It made me think about life as a whole.
Tragedy makes me want to live, to be alive, to experience life. My brother’s fight with cancer has taught me to cherish life for what it is. In my life I have never met someone whose courage and heart inspires me to want to seize the day more. Carpe diem, as the saying goes. When my brother was first diagnosed I knew the saying, but I did not know the true meaning of the saying. Many times people wait until the end to start living, but my brother inspires me to live now, live in the present, for I may not be here tomorrow.
Tragedy makes me believe. It makes me believe that amazing things are possible and that things will turn out all right. Though my brother’s surgery was successful, he developed a complication where he couldn’t talk. As the months without him speaking wore on, it was hard to believe that he would ever speak again. But out of the blue, he started to speak once more. This makes me believe that in all facets and hardships of life things that you never imagined possible can and will happen, no matter how hard life can get.
I have become an optimist, I always try to believe in the positive, and experiencing tragedy has helped me to do this. It is always better to believe that things will turn out all right, even though they may not. Tragedy has also given me the strength to believe in myself no matter what.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.