I spent most of my teenage years angry. Angry at anything and anyone I could be. My mother has a saying that I grew up hearing, “Never try to plan out your life in ink, always use pencil because life doesn’t care about your plan and will change it on you anyways.” I consider myself a spontaneous and extroverted person, one who doesn’t need a schedule to live, and one who is thrilled to go on a last minute road trip with no destination in sight. However, we all have certain ideas about how our lives will turn out, and when our lives don’t go as we planned them, there is a certain amount of disappointment.
I was fifteen when I went to my first funeral. Usually the first funeral you go to is your grandparents or maybe a kid you went to school with, but my first funeral was for my baby brother. I have three sisters, so when my parents decided to have a baby we were all hoping for a boy, though any healthy baby would have been wonderful.
My brother stopped breathing within an hour of birth. I remember that day vividly, though I didn’t think I would. I thought the whole experience would be a blur and the memories would mesh together, but it wasn’t and they don’t. The day was cloudy and cool, it smelled of rain, and I was wearing a sweater that I absolutely hated. While I felt sadness, I knew that my own sense of loss was nothing compared to my mothers, who had carried and hoped for this baby for so long.
While it was a day of great loss, I don’t remember the day of the funeral as dreary. I remember it as the day my stepfather hugged me for the first time. I realized that day how people come together during a tragedy when you need them the most. My step family was a new addition to my life, even though we had been a family for over a year. It takes time to blend and shape a new family from two separate ones and we had been struggling to meet each other halfway.
I believe in the wisdom of John Lennon when he wrote “Life is what happens to you while your busy making plans.” I believe that sometimes the best friends you have aren’t the ones you see everyday, but the ones who come out of the woodwork and go the extra mile for you just because. I also believe that the blips on the radar screen, the unexpected, the imperfections in our life, are what makes our life. It is these imperfections that we all share, and that connect us together. I believe that through these imperfections of blending a family, losing someone we love, and even wearing terribly ugly sweaters, I learned flexibility, compassion, and understanding and as a result I am able to channel my anger and live life on life’s terms.
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