This I Believe

Chelsea - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Entered on January 18, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: death, legacy

I believe that when a loved one dies their death changes me and makes me see the world in a different light. At first I’m overcome with grief but after time passes by I realize they’re still with me in spirit and surround me in everything I do. They also leave me with a gift. It could be one of compassion or one of understanding or even the gift of how to sail a sailboat. Whatever it is, even if I don’t realize it at first, I grow and become a better person with their passing.

When I was 14 I lost a friend and mentor to lung cancer. Julie was an inspiration to everyone who knew her and was one of the most amazing woman I have ever met. When she died I went into a form of denial. I needed to cry and the tears, anger, and pain were screaming to be let out but nothing came out. At night when I was trying to go to sleep I would think back on all the wonderful times we’d shared together and wanted to cry so badly for what I was missing but still, nothing came out. It wasn’t until I accepted her death that the tears came and as much as I wanted for the pain to leave my body with the tears, that emotion stayed. Over time it has lessened but hasn’t entirely left me.

With my acceptance came a new form of grief. It seemed that everywhere I went I saw Julie in some form or another. I saw her in the way someone helped someone else or in the way my mom laughed. Everywhere I went I thought these were reminders that she wasn’t with us any more and the pain that brought outweighed the sweetness of the memory. But time went by and my feelings morphed into something entirely new. When I saw something or someone that had Julie’s spirit I was comforted. Even though I couldn’t see her I felt her presence and realized that she was living on through others. I see it as a form of heaven where she’s still with us but instead of being confined to human form she’s free to take the shape of anything she desires. In this way she lives on.

With Julie’s passing I’ve tried to focus on what I learned from her and how much I’ve grown as a person from being her friend. Julie was the epitome of all things good and free spirited. She was the kind of person everyone tried to be like but really, no one could be like Julie. She was unique and because of all she represented and all she stood for, I learned the importance of being able to stand on my own two feet, having confidence in myself, and not caring what others think of me.

When I think back on the times we spent together I wonder if it wasn’t all just a dream. She was able to bring things out of me I didn’t even know I had inside. She showed me I have the power to be different without caring what others think. With this change in perspective I can now look back on the times we spent together with happiness and without bitterness. It was once with pain I remembered her death but now I believe she’s still with us in spirit, and I’m comforted. I believe her death has made me grow and become a more well rounded individual, and without her I would be a completely different person than I am now.