Standing By

Michele - New Albany, Indiana
Entered on November 13, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

It’s hard to look at those neat little red scars on your dear friend’s wrist. It’s hard to know what could have been going through their mind when they pressed the razor against their skin. It’s hard to think that they feel so alone when you thought you had been there for them all along.

It’s difficult to stand by a coffin and know that the person inside it was only recently kicking-butt on the high school debate team with you. It’s difficult to stand next to his family and tell them that there are things in the world bigger than cancer. It is difficult to have hope.

It’s not easy to hear your friend’s voice mail message once again and wonder why he is refusing to answer when you call. It’s not easy to hear him say vaguely and fearfully, “the summer’s been hard” and walk away from some of the friends who have all fought so hard to support him.

My generation is hurting. I watch my friends fall apart around me and I am reminded of how inescapably human we all are. It hurts to watch people in pain. It seems like it would be easier to stop caring about everyone. Then I wouldn’t have to mind when bad things happen. I could observe it the way you observe a movie. I could watch the tragedy and whisper to myself that all the blood was just ketchup and the tears were only eye-drops. Yet, no matter how I daydream about that life, I know I could never stay there.

Why? Because in the face of all of this heartache, this is what I believe: I believe that the story is not over yet. I believe that there is hope for each and every one of my hurting friends and for me. I haven’t reached the end of the plot. I believe that I need to stand strong.

There is still hope while there is still breath. I have refused to shut my eyes and I have continued to care. Because my eyes have been open, I have been able to watch the scars on my friend’s arm heal. I have watched a family grow through the pain of loss. I am slowly regaining the trust of a friend who walked away.

Don’t get me wrong, things aren’t picture perfect if I just sit around and wait for them to be. Scars leave, but memories don’t. That is the very reason I cannot give up. I have to stand. More than that, I have to act on the hope I hold so tightly. I have to encourage the hurting people around me. I cannot wallow in memories or a selfish cocoon of solitude. I believe that I must come alongside others, I must refuse to give up on anyone, and together we must finish the story.