The young girl crying in the schoolyard filled me with annoyance. Why was she so dramatic? I could see in the distance that my friend *Jenny had knelt beside her. She was taking care of it, and she was better friends with Diane than I was.
“Why was Diane crying?” I asked later.
Jenny’s answer was soft. “Her dad.”
Exasperation rose. It had been weeks. Reviling words that I would never speak went steadfastly through my mind. When was she going to get over it?
Startled, my eyes widen as the memory fades. I can’t ascertain what triggered it, but the recollection fills me with disbelief at my cruelty. How many years had it been? Three? I no longer lived in the place of my childhood and had lost contact with the people in the memory I wished had remained forgotten.
How could I have felt that way about death? Had I understood it? Yes, I knew that death was terrible. Then, why, did I embrace those cruel thoughts? Had I understood life? That it isn’t so much death that is horrifying, but the living with it afterwards? Suddenly, I realize the truth. I couldn’t understand, in fourth grade, why Diane was still crying for her dad because his death had not affected me. But what I had not realized was that Diane’s loss was not just one tragedy; it would affect her whole life.
I’m motionless as I inspect this epiphany. Then, a thought strikes me. My already shaken knowledge of myself makes me question—am I any better now? I like to think of myself as a caring person, but what if I am just as deluded about myself as I once was? I resolve to put forth more effort. I leave my bedroom a more aware individual.
A couple of years later find me walking in the field behind my house.
“Are you okay?” My tone is anxious.
“Yeah, it’s just that…” Lisa’s voice reveals she’s crying. “I’ve been missing my mom a lot lately. It’s hard, you know?” I’m surprised. Lisa’s mom died about ten years ago when she was six. And though Lisa is open in talking about her mom, this is the first time I can recollect her grieving like this.
I give mediocre comfort. My main remark is “I’m sorry” over and over. I feel helpless and hate it. I wish could console her.
“Are you going to be okay?”
“Yeah, I will be.” Lisa’s voice sounds resigned. “It’s just something you never really get over, you know?” These words wind themselves through my mind as we say goodbye.
The conversation has ended, but my thoughts revolve around it. I remember Lisa’s pain, and, I truly feel for her. I realize that I understand more now. I may never fully be able to empathize, but now I have a more intimate comprehension of what she and Diane deal with throughout their lives. And I hope that is something I never get over.
*names have been changed