This I Believe

Eric - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Entered on November 25, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family

For many students, their first time leaving home is at the age of 18 in order to attend college. I left at the age of 14. And when I went away to boarding school, I found adjusting to life away from my family to be nearly impossible. In fact, it was not until mid-way through my sophomore year that I became fully comfortable with living on my own.

One night, I awoke face flat on a stained tiled floor with a thick gash embedded in my skull and no memory of the events leading to my predicament. As a state of panic began to build inside me, my eyes were abruptly confronted by a wounded police officer lying by my side. At this point, I felt as if I was facing an insurmountable qualm. Then everything went black. In the proceeding hours I would awake again only to confront a horrid aftermath. I soon found that I had developed multiple-complex epilepsy. As I began to have a seizure, my roommate quickly dialed 911.

The police arrived as my seizure began to subside and in my partially unconscious state, I panicked and tackled one of the officers against a brick wall. We both suffered injuries to the head. All of this was pretty difficult to swallow, especially since I was at boarding school; far away from home.

After arriving at the hospital I flirted with a state of awareness, and while I should have been full of grief and distress, I felt safe, almost euphoric. Even today I still lack the ability to articulate the fullness of my emotion at that time, but I do understand its cause. I was with family that night; family that sacrificed to sit by my side till dawn and family that cared for my well being. It was because of this family, even though they may not have been blood relatives, that I felt at home and stayed free of worry.

In the following days I never had an empty hospital room. There was one instance, halfway through my required stay, in which my whole unit along with the swimming team arrived with catered food so we could all have dinner together. There were over 80 students, all dressed in our distinct school uniform, crammed into a small hospital room and spread out across the recovery ward hallway, each of whom was family.

I believe in family. Although for me, family is not bound to blood or relation, only to a community of friends willing to sacrifice for one another. And it is this sacrificial trust that helped me to ultimately define my ambitions. I was first able to develop my life goals by listening to my peers’ diverse experiences and aspirations. As I defined and continue to redefine these goals, family has always been there to help me pursue them. Even today, my pledge class pushes me to strive for excellence in my classes, social activities, and community service. And in the rare chance that I or one of my brothers encounters a setback, we will always be there for each other.