This I Believe

Olivia - Hoffman Estates, Illinois
Entered on May 18, 2007

That Friday began like any other. I woke up, took a shower, and got ready for school just like any other morning. When I arrived at school, I walked down to the auditorium to see Mary Fons, my friend Janie’s favorite Slam Poet, kick off our school’s weeklong writing celebration. I scanned the heads in the seats for Janie’s short, brown hair, and when I couldn’t find her, I asked her best friend where she was.

“Melissa, where’s Janie?” I asked, “I figured she’d be the first one here to see Mary Fons.”

She looked at me solemnly and uttered the words that consumed me with a feeling of grief unlike anything I have ever known.

“Janie’s in the hospital,” she said slowly. “She tried to commit suicide. She asked me to tell you.”

My heart dropped into my stomach, and I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to vomit. I uttered a few more words to Melissa, asking a few questions that I couldn’t hear the answers to because the buzzing in my ears was too loud. I tried to smile reassuringly at her as I walked away, but the lump in the back of my throat seemed to be overtaking my entire face. I scuffled quickly up the stairs, turning my face to the wall to prevent anyone from seeing the hot tears forming in my eyes.

The next few weeks past in a blur. During every class, I found it impossible to concentrate. While my friends laughed and joked around, I would only smile meekly to convince them, and myself, that I could accept my friend’s near-death experience. About three weeks later, I picked up my phone to hear a familiar voice, relief warming every cell in my body. It was Janie. She was finally home.

Because of my experience with Janie, I realize how precious life is. I can’t convince her to love herself, but I can tell her over and over again how much I love her, and how special she is. With any luck, she will begin to believe it.

As my friendship has grown with Janie, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I have learned that I believe in helping people, because seeing other people feel good about themselves is what makes me happiest. Janie’s smile can light up the room, her fun-loving personality is contagious, and she is admired by everyone fortanute enough to know her. I believe that she will conquer whatever drove her to try to kill herself, and she will spread the joy she has brought to me to everyone else she meets.