This I Believe

Chris - Nashua, New Hampshire
Entered on June 1, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: carpe diem

Our time here is short. I believe we have to make the most of it. When people say “Live every day like it’s your last,” I don’t think about riding in a red sports car with sunglasses and a cold glass of beer, I think about making my peace in the world. I think about making things right again.

When I was an infant, I had to have my kidneys replaced. I’m not exactly sure why, but every year I would be packed up and head down to Children’s Hospital. I realized slowly that I wouldn’t be able to have a cold beer in a sports car, since it would put “undue stress on my digestive system.”

In recent years my worry about my kidneys has faded. I became a fairly active teenager. I was normal. Well, normal enough. I had friends, things to do, and I could make conversation. I didn’t have to worry about what was wrong with me. Then in my senior year the unthinkable happened. I had been watching movies in my room when the phone rang. I was soon called downstairs. Lise, my best friend Stephen’s older sister was on the other line.

“Hello?”

“Hi Chris. It’s Lise.”

“Oh, what’s going on?”

“Stephen’s going into heart surgery.”

I stopped. “When?” I asked.

“Soon. We’re not really sure yet.”

That Friday Lise and Stephen’s father came to my house. We rode down to Boston. He wasn’t going into surgery, but I wanted to be with him. I learned the full story.

Turns out that Stephen had been complaining of heart pains all week. They had taken him down to children’s, and in the elevator he had collapsed, unconscious. We didn’t do much, just watched movies on his laptop. But seeing him hooked up to a heart monitor, lying weak in bed made me realize.

That could be me.

That could be anyone.

Stephen turned out all right. The surgery was a success. Stephen wasn’t allowed outside for a while, but we went to see Ghostrider just last week. He’s better now. But what happened made me realize something.

Live every day like it’s your last. Pray to whoever you want to pray to. Make your peace with the universe every day. Make the world a little better. Not all of us have a red sports car and cold beer for our last day. Maybe we have to sit in a soup kitchen handing out hot soup. Maybe we have to hold the door open for an old lady, or listen to an old man’s stories. Maybe we have to do something for everyone.