The Denial, the Acceptance, and the Healing

The Denial, the Acceptance, and the Healing

You may be gone, but never forgotten.
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"Rest in Peace man, I really can't believe it." That's the tweet that I saw to find out that my friend, Luke, had passed away. Getting the news wasn't the hard part, believing it was. I had to believe that this teenage two sport star athlete was no longer able to put that body into motion. I had to accept that I wouldn't see his crooked smile or piercing blue eyes anymore. I had to believe that he wouldn't be singing T-Pain while he played the ukulele that he stole from his sister anymore. The boy that made everyone around him feel so happy and good about ourselves would not be around anymore.

I was in denial even through his viewing. His casket was lying in the front of the church surrounded by beautiful flower displays but I couldn't get myself to look in that direction. Instead, I was observing everything around; the tables outlining the church with get-well cards made by elementary students with almost every word misspelled, the wedding video downstairs that was projected on the wall displaying the love in his life, and the years of baseball and basketball jerseys. I heard the laughter of his friends sharing stories and saw hugs everywhere I looked. I absorbed myself in the reds, yellows, oranges, and blues of the stained glass to keep my eyes busy. Once it was my turn to say my goodbyes, I looked in the casket but did not see my friend, the teenage athlete, but rather a shell of who he was.

I had accepted that the cancer had taken its course though so many were hoping and praying that he would beat it. My friend and inspiration was no longer around and I didn't know what to do. So many people were closer to him than I was but I couldn't help but feel so angry and upset that such a young, positive, and uplifting soul was taken away far too soon.

About a year and a half later, I just got myself to delete his phone number. For the first year, I would continue to text him, thinking everything was a bad dream and I'd get a response. One or two times I even called, not knowing what I would do if anyone ever answered. I began writing him letters to tell him how much he had done for me and how I still think about him all the time. That's when the healing began. I used to see him in other people, thinking he was walking around my campus or at a basketball game. That used to break me down. I used the letters to thank him for the signs that he is still around and still helping me through everything life throws at me just like he did throughout high school.

I am still healing, I have finally accepted, but I will not forget. Anyone that had ever come in contact with Luke would agree that his memory will never leave our community. Though the process is taking so long, the healing will come. Denying someone's departure does not mean that they are gone from your life. Rather, we need to accept this reality but never forget the impact this person had in yours and others' lives. We have accepted that he cannot be here anymore and he no longer is in pain, but we will not accept him being forgotten. Luke Blanock will forever be in our hearts.

Cover Image Credit: The Today Show

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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