This I Believe

Gabriel - Briarcliff Manor, New York
Entered on June 1, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family, setbacks

Tainted Happiness

For once, someone stop asking me, “Do you want to hear the good news first or the bad news?” For once, someone forget “the good news,” and just give me “the bad news.” For once, someone realize “the good news” is always spoiled by “the bad news.”

In seventh and eighth grade, most thirteen-year-olds are consumed with holidays, homework, and undiscovered, somewhat-perverted hormones. Like most thirteen-year-old Jewish boys, I was chained to my haftorah. All I really wanted was the party. Let’s be honest, all everyone really wants is the party. But as most overly-protective, overly-affectionate, and overly-Jewish parents claim, my bar-mitzvah was my “coming of age,” my “first STEP into manhood.” On the morning of my big day, all went surprisingly well at the synagogue. Mom even managed to hold back those oh-so-embarrassing “happy tears.” As the night sloooooowly arrived, my excitement frantically grew. Yet before I knew it, the party was over. As my friend and I arrived back at my house, we were both eager to open the 500 somewhat presents. Unfortunately, before the presents even left the car, we passed out on the couch, clothed and all, fat with haughty complacency.

At 9 A.M. the next morning, I was awoken by the faint sound of sniffles. As I sluggishly rolled over and slid my eyelids open, the sight of my mother, helplessly crying, appeared. “I can’t say it Steve. You tell him.”

Without the slightest hint, I had some indescribable feeling that my grandmother had died. Yet I couldn’t force the suspicion out of me. A fear burned inside of me. The words were pushing out of my mouth. But I didn’t dare speak. Suppose this intuition was false, how dare I question it? As I lifted my head, my dad painfully muttered, “Gabe, she died this morning. I’m sorry.”

Disappointment, misery, frustration, anger, rage filled my body. I wanted to slap him. I wanted to slap my mom. Who are they to tell me my grandmother just died, I just…I just saw her last night? And what about my bar-mitzvah? This is supposed to be my day, my weekend. This is about me! How could they come and take that away from me? I slammed my head back into my pillow, weak with vulnerability.

Four years later, I still remember the frustration and helplessness that I felt. It was like an explosive reaction, the mixing of such a high with such a low, an antithesis of emotions. As time only heals, I have only grown from this experience with a new outlook on life. I firmly believe that the good things in life do not always fix the bad things. Forget my bar-mitzvah, my grandmother just died. Forget the sweetness in life because life is too bitter to overlook. I believe it takes a lot more than just a spoonful of sugar to make my medicine go down.