Loss. What does it mean to truly lose? To some, loss is when you can not find your keys or even when your favorite goldfish dies. Some of these losses can be grieved but most of them consist of material things that can be replaced. I, however, have experienced real loss; the kind that can not be replaced. I am aware that there are many others that have lost so much more than I have, but I believe my losses are great enough to teach me a little something about life ( although I know there is much more I have to learn). Most people probably think, what can a fifteen year old girl possibly know about life? Unfortunately, in my fifteen years of life I have suffered more loss than any soul should ever even have to contemplate. I do believe, however, that it is necessary to truly lose in order to learn how to give, love, and live. Everyone wants to have this spiritual extended understanding that comes with loss, yet surprisingly, no one even wants to think or look at a loss that affects them personally. I am sorry to say, you must really lose something to be a part of the “Understanding Loss” club. We are a very selective group. I first truly experienced loss when my Aunt Michelle died. She would braid my hair, paint my nails, and play with me. She had the kindest of hearts. I missed her when I lost her but I was too young to understand. Then my uncle passed away. This was devastating, I had a better understanding now and I felt a part of me hurt inside. I felt so sorry for my cousins for losing their Dad. I remember thinking, how blessed I am to still have my father. Then the unexpected happened. I was nine years old, my parents had divorced when I was six (another hard time in my life that I didn’t fully comprehend) and so the last time I saw my father was Christmas. We were supposed to go out on a new Years dinner but my repeated phone calls rang unanswered. The silence, the lack of his voice worried me, but not until a few days later did my world begin to crumble. My mother was the one to go to his house and find him no longer lucky enough to have air in his lungs, nor a beating heart. When my mother told me the news I would not nor could not believe her. I cried…until my eyes were unable to produce more tears (Crying, is another thing we must all learn to embrace). Losing a parent is something no one should experience at a young age. I could go on for days talking about the hole that developed in my heart and the new dark light that remains in my soul; however, my point is not to explain the loss of my father but rather how it influenced my life. I felt, from that day, I had a new understanding of some spiritual connection to my father wherever his soul does travel. But like with all losses, life must continue and I must find a way to keep breathing, keep hoping, keep dreaming. My mother is amazing, that is the best way to begin her introduction. Every aspect of her is breathtaking. How she dealt with all this (and so much more that she has been through) I do not know. It caused her to experience a second divorce and yet her heart has never stopped loving. She did the finest job with raising me, her only daughter, her only child. Together we have grown, and loved, and lost, and learned. She is my champion, my angel, my beautiful mother. About a year and some months ago my mother became ill. No doctor at first knew what it was. Last spring she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. A dreadful cancer, as most are, that does not hold the joy of having many survivors. When my mother told me this I did not know how to go on. How can I make every moment with her worth while? They told my mother she would only have six to twelve months to live. My life took a nasty turn. Why would this happen to me? I can not lose another parent! Fortunately, my mother is so strong. She is truly a member of the “Understanding Loss” club. She has learned from and embraced every challenge that has tried to stop her. Fourteen months later and she has proved every doctor wrong. There are good days and bad days but my mother battles through no matter what. She is my inspiration. She has taught me what it means to give, to love, and to live. Even though loss is something that no one wants to endure, there is something about the experience that brings new meaning to the life which I love and embrace.