For Trey..

Emily - Corona del Mar, California
Entered on February 18, 2008

I believe that children, as well as adults, need a safe and caring environment in which to learn, in order to reach their full academic potential.

When I received this assignment, I was very unsure of what to write that would accurately convey my beliefs. Since the initial assignment of this paper, a lot has happened in my life. I have realized that we are all children at various points in our existence. Whether we are actual children who are new to the world, or just feel like children, vulnerable and small when we make major life changes. I moved here to Lawrence, KS from southern California. That was an unbelievable change for me. Not only did I loose the sun and the beach, but I had to walk into a huge new school all by myself, and it felt like the first day of kindergarten all over again.

I know my friends felt the same way. My best friend since fourth grade, Trey, moved all the way across the country to go to NYU. It was perfect for him. He was an absolutely brilliant writer, and it was more than obvious that he would reach his full potential there. He and I had a very special connection, and he promised me years ago that he would give me away at my debutante ball this coming November (I needed someone to roll my eyes at). After we all moved to our respective schools, we checked in with each other constantly, but this comfort dwindled as each of us became engrossed in our schoolwork and became busy trying to fit in with a new set of friends.

I became so unhappy and depressed about moving here that immediately I planned a trip home just to see my friends. I was going to take a Thursday and Friday off and fly out to California because I couldn’t hack it anymore. Usually a diligent student, I did feel guilty about missing my Thursday and Friday classes, yet I honestly had had enough. During my stay at home, I got a phone call from one of my best friends, Eric, who breathlessly sobbed into the phone that Trey had committed suicide earlier that morning. Obviously this destroyed me. I had never experienced such a sudden, unexpected death in my life. I had never lost anybody this close.

When I returned to Lawrence I felt completely isolated. I felt as if I was in an unsafe place to grieve, and nobody understood my situation. I felt as if I was in a place where nobody knew me well enough to really care. I delivered Trey’s eulogy when I flew back the next weekend for his funeral, where I spoke on behalf of his mother, as well as myself. Needless to say, I missed many consecutive classes. Since my return, I have missed even more class because I felt unwell and unable to go. For a while, I felt that it was hopeless to even be at school. However, I have kept in very close contact with Trey’s mother as well as my best friends from home and they all helped me realize that there are people who care out here, and I can still grow in an unfamiliar environment. They showed me that I can still reach my potential despite my obstacles and, in fact, use my obstacles to fuel my success.

When children, and those of us who feel like children, feel unsupported, unsafe or unimportant in their environment, it makes it nearly impossible to focus on anything else, let alone schoolwork. I am no exception. As a future educator I now have a new belief and a new focus for my classroom-to-be. I can relate to the scared and sad child, because now, at 18, I’ve been one myself.