This I Believe

AthenaJulie - Tacoma, Washington
Entered on January 23, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: illness

Sacrifice takes a lot of guts. It is the act of giving up something that you want to do for the welfare of other people. At the age of 11, the concept of sacrifice was a difficult one for me to grasp.

The December of my 6th grade year, my grandma was diagnosed with lymphoma. I remember very clearly when my mother told me. She sat all of my sisters and me down and explained to us exactly what was going on. She told us that we were going to go down to San Francisco where she lived to stay with her and help her for Christmas. Immediately, I selfishly thought to myself and how unfair that was. Why should I have to give up my Christmas and spend Christmas morning in a hotel room? Why should I have to miss out relaxing on my break? Why do I have to give every tradition we had always done at Christmas? Why should I give up decorating the house, getting a tree or getting every gift I asked for? I, at no point stopped and thought; how is my mom feeling right now? What kind of a sacrifice is she making for her entire family? Or, most importantly, I hope my grandma will be alright.

When we arrived at my grandma’s house I walked into the living room and saw her. She looked weak and pale. The strong and healthy woman I had always seen was gone, and somebody I didn’t know had taken her place. And this scared me.

Around midnight on Christmas Eve, my grandma suddenly took a turn for the worse and she was taken to the emergency room. My cousins, my sisters, my aunts and uncles and I all waited in the waiting room. I wondered how many of my friends had to spend Christmas Eve in a hospital waiting room, sleeping in a chair. Thankfully, she was stabilized and was able to go home. But a strand of guilt lingered in my chest. Here I was, pitying myself for being deprived of the perfect Christmas, and my Grandma was in the emergency room.

On Christmas evening all of our family had dinner at her house. We laughed and told funny stories and later that night we even sang karaoke. For the first time during my visit, this was the first time I saw her genuinely happy. I realized that this was all she wanted.

My Grandma was able to battle her lymphoma and has now been in remission for 3 years now. That Christmas, I realized that my sacrifice was worth it in the end. It strengthened me as a person and opened my eyes to selflessness and remembering what really is important in life. So what if I didn’t get all of the gifts I wanted? So what if I spent Christmas Eve in a hospital? It all really doesn’t matter when you do something for the ones that you love. In a way, I think that because all of us were with my grandma that Christmas, our love and sacrifice was the one thing that kept her going. Looking back on that point in my life, I realize that there are so many more important things in life than material objects. Things like my Grandmother can never be replaced. I am willing to sacrifice anything, even the perfect Christmas, for the welfare of someone that I love.