Black and White Pictures

Stephanie - San Clemente, California
Entered on September 17, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: carpe diem

I’ve seen news of suicides and listened stories of failure since I was a little girl. My mom would constantly remind me not to be like this or not to do that. She never told me why. I didn’t know any better when I was younger, but as I grew up I started asking her more questions, resulting in a very frustrated mother and an extremely confused daughter. Even after constant bickering, I still did exactly what she told me. I got the grades she wanted from me, I did the chores she assigned, and I played the sports and instruments she wanted me to play. I thought, “maybe if I did all these things, she would love me and give me just as much attention as she did my little sister”, but of course, that didn’t work out as planned. No matter what I did, my sister was always showered with attention, but she never did anything! She didn’t listen when my mother told her to do something, she wouldn’t do anything she was told, and worst of all, she would yell back! Despite all of this, she was still showered with affection. As time continued, I got angrier and angrier everyday, but I still did everything I was told. I never talked back and just simply went on with life. I felt like this puppet that mommy just controlled. My grades started slipping, and I would randomly zone out, thinking of absolutely nothing. I would rarely speak at home and continued accepting orders. Mom didn’t notice any changes in me, or course. One day, after the chores were finished, dinner was made, and homework was done, Grandpa called me into his room. He told me to sit beside him and proceeded to take out these really old looking books. Being the twelve year old girl I was, I just thought they were ugly and smelled funny. He opened the first one, and I saw this huge array of black and white photographs. He put the book in my lap and went out for his daily walk. I didn’t know what was going on, so I just sat and flipped through the pictures. I looked through the first book and saw baby pictures of my dad, aunts, uncles, and friends. Everyone was smiling. I continued flipping through photos until I reached the third book. No one smiled. There were starving children, weeping parents, and solemn faces. I kept on flipping pages. When I got to the fifth and last book, I saw colored photos, my parent’s wedding, my grandparent’s anniversary, my first birthday, and most importantly, smiles. I found a letter on the last page of the book with my name on it. I went to look for grandpa, but he was asleep on the couch. I sat next to him and opened the letter. It had one sentence and that was all I needed to continue living life with a smile. “Bạn đã biết l–m sao để kết thúc cuộc sống các bạn tại sao như vậy kh”ng học sống nó thay v–o đó.” I believe that each man already knows how to end his life, so why not learn to live it?