This I Believe

Katie - Midlothian, Illinois
Entered on February 27, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

“Celebrate Hard Times”

I hate funerals. Somebody dies, everyone cries, and people forget exactly what that person stood for. I’m not saying that there should be no tears or a time for mourning, but there should also be celebration.

About eight months ago, two days before I graduated high school, a friend of mine passed away. Not only did I attend school with him but I also worked with him. Everyday we would see each other in the hallway at the same time. He would tell me to get to class and I would tell him the same thing. Then, when I went to work he would always ask me in a joking matter, “Why did you ditch school today?” Even though he knew I was there. Walking through the halls of school and going to work was devastating those two days. I cried nonstop and did not want go to my graduation. I regretted having to hear his name get called and not having the chance to watch him go up for his diploma. After the ceremony, I witnessed his family taking a picture with the empty chair. I kept thinking to myself, “I am not going to be able to go to this funeral.”

A few days later was the funeral. I knew I had to gain the courage to go and pay my respects. As I walked in the door and I saw him lying in the casket, I also saw his grandmother there smiling and laughing. I was going to say a prayer when his grandmother saw me crying. She came and gave me a hug still holding a smile on her face. As I continued to cry, she began to tell me stories. One story stood out, and that was how just a week ago, he was asking her for money for gas. She continued to tell me, “Well what is a grandmother to do when a grandson asks for money?” Of course, she gave him the money. I couldn’t help but laugh because it was true. After that story, his grandmother gave me an invitation. It was to a graduation party for her grandson. His family did not want anyone to forget that he did graduate high school and that is what should be celebrated.

To this day that story still stays with me. I came home after the funeral and felt rejuvenated. I don’t think his grandmother knows just how much she taught me as well as changed my life. Funerals don’t have to be silent and full of tears, they can be celebrated and full of laughs and smiles. After all, the song goes “Celebrate Good Times,” why not the hard times too?