This I Believe

Kelly - Palatine, Illinois
Entered on May 19, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: humanism

I believe people are simply people. They are neither good nor bad. What they do is what defines them. I realized this of people only weeks ago, when a fellow classmate of mine passed away after struggling with cancer. Sure, people paused for a moment of silence, they looked sad when they first heard the announcement, and I could even see a few tears well up in some of my classmate’s eyes. But by the end of the day, everyone had gone back to their normal lives. It was as if they forgot that an innocent teenager with a bright future had died earlier that day. It was as if they were too caught up in their own lives, to care about the life of someone who didn’t even have a life anymore.

Now, the fact that my peers went on with their days as if nothing happened is not wrong. But it is not right either. When the principle came over the loud speaker to tell everyone the bad news, everyone stopped what they were doing. The classroom went silent. Everyone began thinking about Melissa, and the memories they had of her. But some people had no memories of her because they were not fortunate enough to know her well enough to have memories with her. Others were so unfortunate; they had never even known she existed before that tragic announcement.

I am no different. I was in her English class for an entire year and I barely said anything to her. I knew she was suffering. She barely came to school and when she did, she looked sick. I felt bad for her, sure, but I never reached out and told her if she needed anything, I was just a phone call away. No, I did not do that. I ignored the fact that she was sick, I went on with my life. And now I regret it.

I regret the fact that I was so absorbed in my own life that I never got to know a girl who could have taught me so much about life. She could have taught me that you cannot take your life for granted, but you can’t live your life in fear either. She could have taught me about the sickness she had, and what it did to her body. She could have taught me about herself; her life story, the memories that made her laugh and the memories that made her cry. She could have taught me about the dreams she had, about the fears she had, and about the things she wanted to accomplish in life. She could have taught me so much, but I was too busy with my own life that I never got the chance to learn about hers.

I still believe people are simply people. At the end of the day, when you look at yourself in the mirror you know whether or not you were a good person that day, or a bad one. The fact that people are absorbed in their lives in not always a bad thing, but if they never stop to look around them and see what is going on; they are missing out on the story of other incredible people. I realize now that I missed out on knowing an incredible person, Melissa Fragen, and now it is too late. I will never get the chance to know her because she is gone. But I can learn from this mistake and promise to never make it again. I can make a difference in someone’s life and I can prove that people are good. But, even though I can do all that does not mean I will, which brings us back to the fact that people, well, people are simply people. This, I believe.