The Aftermath

Kendra - Port Jefferson, New York
Entered on January 7, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

When I was in just fifth grade, my Papa died. It was the first time I experienced loss and the first time I felt the true pain of absence. I remember my mother coming home late one night from the hospital with tear-stained cheeks and mournful eyes. The news seemed to engulf the surrounding air and tear through my heart. It was then, in that moment, I learned I would never take anyone for granted because once they are gone, they would never come back.

I clearly remember talking to my friends after that year of pain. They would often be so pessimistic about having to see their family-most of all their grandparents. They would make comments that showed their utter lack of appreciation for their loving elders, comments that demonstrated the ways they would take their grandparents for granted, and comments that broke my heart. I would just sit there listening and thinking to myself: if they only knew the value of their grandparents, if they only knew what it felt like to have them gone and to never be able to talk to them again, if they only knew how different their lives would be without those welcoming visits, then they’d understand.

Now before my grandparents died, I would tend to take people for granted, especially my mom and dad. I would always blame my mother for things that went wrong in my life and forget those simple “thank you’s” and “I love you’s”. But now, ever since the funeral, not a day goes by that I don’t tell my mother that I love her, or thank my sister for being there for me. I realized that nothing lasts forever, and you have to show people you care for them while you still can.

If at times I am being unreasonable or unappreciative of a person, I immediately take a step back. I think of my life without that person, of a life where anything could happen at any given moment. I think of how much I love that person and how sorry I would be if I didn’t show my true admiration and love for them.

I believe there are moments when you have to extend your hand and let people in. Moments that harp on this belief: I believe that you should never take anyone for granted. I believe it is important, in my life, to show people I care, to say thank you every day, and to hold hands with the person I love.