Coping With Loss

Life After Death

Here's to two kids who had no idea that life could change so quickly.

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When I was twelve, the world ended for most kids my age when our parents found our notes (that's right folks, we talked shit with pen and paper back in the day), or our parents found our report cards with C's in History because Heaven forbid we go over the "Declaration of Independence" again.

Most of us stressed about those God-awful essay prompts that asked middle schoolers, "What is one thing that has made an impact on your life?" Like how is a middle schooler supposed to have something to say other than they won some contest for *insert extra curricular activity here*.

Ironically, I was a twelve year old with an essay that caused an after-school meeting with my mother and English teacher. I guess when talking about death, I wasn't supposed to have so much to say.

I was eleven years old when something inside of me died...I don't know if it was my faith in God or maybe the loving world my parents made me believe was ruined or maybe I was just introduced to the real world. Either way, I wrote about it and my teacher pulled me aside. I won't give you the version I wrote out for my teacher but here's what happened:

Four family members went on a road trip. One came back.

I have written this story many times. I have cried, screamed, cursed at God, and took glass shards to my skin. (I did it once and it really hurt more than I thought it would so never do that again but nonetheless, self-harm is NOT OKAY).

I think I saw pain everywhere I looked after the accident and I just didn't care to try to make it better. I reached out to my mom and she shoved me to my cousin Joshua (the one to survive). I reached out to my brother and he wasn't there, he was with Joshua.

At the time, I think the family majority vote was, "Alyssa is closest to Joshua so she can make him happy... you know since he just lost his mom, dad, and brother." Truth be told, I only saw Joshua a couple of times prior to this incident. And another truth is... I was scared of him. I felt like everyone was thinking I was going to make him happy and if I didn't.. then he wouldn't want to live anymore. I was scared of him because I didn't know how to make him want to live while he was laying in a full body cast.

I wanted to be with my mom but she... wasn't there. I would wander off and find her in a corner crying. Other times she would be there getting ready for work and she looked like a ghost of my mother. For a little while, I think every aunt cousin, grandparent, and even my parents were slowly dying inside.

It has been a long time since they passed. If I could write an essay about how this impacted my life at twenty-four instead of twelve, then I would say:

I am no longer afraid of love.

Losing so much in an instant taught me that every moment I have with my family and cherished friends is a blessing.

I have come off very strong in my life and this is why. I am not going to hold back because along with not being afraid of love, I am afraid of not having the opportunity to tell someone what they mean to me.

I hope one day Joshua understands that his life saved all of us. I hope one day Joshua understands how much we love him.

I pray one day Joshua understands that I, Alyssa love him more than he could ever imagine.

Being able to become* his sister is the greatest blessing God has ever given me.

This is for my grandparents, my parents, my brother, and Joshua.


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I'm Not 'Spoiled,' I Just Won't Apologize For Having Great Parents

Having supportive parents is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

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When I tell people that I am the baby of my family, there is always a follow-up question asking if I am spoiled. As I was a child, perhaps the situation was a little different because I did not receive material things but instead got my way or rarely was punished. I was most likely spoiled rotten in that sense, especially by my grandparents. Fast forward to the age of 19 and I can say that my parents give me everything that I need, not necessarily everything that I want.

But I still don't think I'm spoiled.

I might legally be an adult, but my parents still provide for me. I may live at school during the semester, but my parents don't charge me rent or utilities when I am at home. My mom still does my laundry. They pay my phone bill monthly. When my mom goes grocery shopping, she doesn't have me chip in to help. She will make sure the bathroom is stocked with tampons or shampoo so I don't have to worry about it. The both of them make sure I have the sufficient needs to not be hungry, cold, or without shelter.

They do all of these things because they want what is best for me.

While they pay my student loans, I give them money to cover it as well as a little extra each month for different expenses. If we go out to eat, I do offer to pay but often get shut down and end up leaving the tip instead. I help around the house and sometimes make trips to the store for food or cleaning supplies, not asking for money to be paid back.

I have a job that gives me decent hours, but my parents understand that money for a college kid is tough.

I pay for my own luxuries such as makeup, cute clothes, even to get my hair cut. Spoiled is typically defined as "damaged by having been given everything they want." Do I want another dog? Yes. Do I have one? No. Do I want a swimming pool in my backyard? Yes. Do I have one? Again, no. That is because both my mother and father still believe in working for what you want and even their daughter doesn't get a free pass unless it's her birthday or Christmas. Do I still have everything I could ever need? Yes.

My parents do the exact same thing for my brother and sister who are older than I am.

I know if I have a problem, whether it be financial or crucial, I can turn to them for help. A lot of people my age don't have parents like I do and I am extremely grateful for them and everything that they do. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

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Blocking Toxic Family Members Can Be Just What You Needed

It isn't an easy choice but it can be the most rewarding.

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I haven't written for the Odyssey in quite some time due to this large issue in my life that I feel some people may also need to hear. Watching your parents go through a divorce can be difficult in itself, but what about having to remove one of your parents from your life at the same time? It's something I don't think many people could imagine doing. However, sometimes you are forced into the position between choosing what is best for your mental health or what is expected of you. For me, I realized that I needed to put myself first.

I realized that I am my own person. How I present myself and how I act and what I choose to believe in is how the world perceives me. I was faced with a parent who did not let me be who I am. The way I thought had to be in line with theirs. What I openly spoke about had to be in line with that parent's thoughts. This also, in turn, meant I had to revolve how I was perceived to the world around that parent's family. I had to abide by these societal norms and do what someone else expected of me. I realized that was ludicrous.

This parent was also abusive. They were toxic and manipulative and I could not stand idly by and just take that from them while also trying to become an independent young adult. I was forced to sit and watch one of my parents transform into someone I didn't recognize anymore. I had to watch them ignore any kind of reality checks and continue to feign innocence. I watched one of my parents mentally manipulate people I once called family into believing lies. I kept my head down and shut my mouth and kept taking the abuse. Now I'm at a point where I can confidently say that I am no longer afraid.

I was forced to cut ties with a parent that raised me, cared for me, attended school functions, fixed toys, bought me my first phone. I was forced to chuck out priceless memories for my own sanity. I could not sit idly by and allow myself to endure one more second of lies or abuse. I had to stand up for myself for once in my life and I blocked most of my family. I blocked cousins, aunts, uncles, and godparents. I changed my phone number that I had since 6th grade. I gave no warning and disappeared from my family's lives. Do I have regrets? No. I would do it again if I had to because I am so much stronger than sitting there and taking it.

I will have one less parent at my college graduation, which I am fighting so hard to achieve. I will have one less parent at my wedding. My future children will have one less grandparent. I mope in these thoughts but then I have to remember the other side of things. I will not have an unsupportive parent at my graduation and instead will have those that were there every step of the way. I will lack someone who was toxic at my wedding. My future children will never have to face the same abusive, toxic situations that my parent put me through. It was a difficult decision to make but one that I know in my heart is worthwhile.

Cutting a family member out of your life is difficult enough but cutting a parent is unimaginable. However, no one deserves to go through abusive situations. It shouldn't matter who the person is; if someone is treating you less than you deserve to be treated, they have no use being in your life. You should always be your first priority. You should never have to endure something for the sake of others. I am here to tell you that you are more than that and that cutting out a family member could actually be the best thing for you, even if it's incredibly difficult. I did it and I'm still here. It made me realize who my real family was, and there will never be enough thank you's in the world to show my mother just how much I appreciate her.

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