Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

123
views

If you’re reading this, I hope it resonates with you. And if you’re not, I truly wish you were.

There is some truth to the idea that our parents get us pets, loving and furry animals, to learn compassion and responsibility. But I will tell you the other side to that is to learn the ability to cope with loss, understand the ramifications of death and come to terms with the realities of life. Maybe in the moment they aren’t thinking about it, with your childhood joy and all, and lord knows you aren’t, a six-year-old with a goldfish. But one day, it’ll be a lesson learned, a "life" experience, if you will.

We spend countless days, months, and if you’re lucky, years caring for an extension to the family. Feed, water, play, clean up, repeat. They stand by our sides during times of tragedy, and support us with unconditional love in silence. Their existence is enough for us. They sense trouble before us, guard the doors, protect the home that may be heartfelt or reality. Lay with us while we cry and deny the affections of our parents and friends. They are the teddy bear we’ve always needed.

Then one day, you lose them. And the worst part, they can’t even say goodbye. Can’t lay with you while you cry over the loss of them. It’s a devastation that’s both dramatic and necessary, and as a child, you learn this lesson. The goldfish goes belly up, and you learn about it while you flush him down the toilet in some dramatic titanic-esc scene. Off to the store to buy a-new. You bury the family dog or cat in the backyard and cringe at the spot where grass has yet to regrow. One day, you’ll find a stray and they will fill the hole where your childhood pet lay. Not to replace, but because to some extent, they feel necessary to our existence. We find ourselves empty in places we didn’t know could be emptied, we feel unsafe without a snore at the foot of the bed.

So you learn to cope, and clean up the scraps no one is there to lap up. You learn to live with the loss, learn to live without them. Lesson learned.

But like math, there’s more than just 2+2. There’s multiplication, algebra, trigonometry… And the lessons get more complicated as we grow.

The people we grow up loving, the ones we learn to love. The ones we have only ever loved. Those that taught us the lessons of loss, the introduction to addition: 1+1 level, somehow are subtracted from our lives. And sometimes, like our furry companions, they don’t get to say goodbye.

We are quick to answer 2 A.M. calls, expectant of death. No one calls the house at this hour... We bounce in from work or class to tears on kitchen tables. Sometimes we just know.

You drive for hours, going nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Revisiting roads you’ve driven down. Sitting on curbs you’ve shared. Staring at photos you’ve taken. You look to the passenger seat; every trip, test drive… flashbacks are a bitch.

The sick part is, you’ve been through this before. And you’ll continue to go through it.

We watch our grandparents age and dwindle, forgetting our names and struggle to stand for a greeting. Say things like, “this could be the last time…” and “you never know when…”. And yet when it happens, it’s still a surprise. Could have been tomorrow I suppose, or last week. But we ache for the memories of a childhood unforgotten; if they're gone, so is everything I've ever experienced with them, right? Cookies don’t taste the same, we smell cigars in the dead of empty night.

We realize that age has nothing to do with it. Sickness knows no bounds, temptation knows all weakness’ and accidents are just so. We look for answers in unwritten letters, sent text messages and full freezers. The “what ifs” will destroy you. The blame game never has a winner. Whose pain is worse, yours or mine?

You wait for the "April Fools!", or the alarm clock wake up. It never comes, and you’re forced to realize that it’s a reality. Swollen eyes, choking coughs followed by discarded cigarette butts and quietly blasted songs of desperation and devastation. Long walks on beaches drinking alcohol stolen from our parents, freshly baked bread with flour dusted everywhere, barbeques with too loud of laughs. I’ll say it again. Childhood memories in backyards. Easter Sunday breakfasts. Christmas Eve dinners.

You sleep terribly, sip coffee that goes cold. You attend wake after funeral, and funeral after funeral. The rooms all feel the same, too warm for the winter brewing inside us. There is always the moment someone grabs your hand while you sit silently, the embrace after a service. The turn-around at casket, when you have just enough time to see everyone else staring back at your pain, mirrors. There is the moment you realize how much this is going to hurt. The moment you realize you’re about to feel it, and the moment you do.

No number of run-away turtles, and ill-fated hamsters could have prepared you for these moments. They gave us ideas, they educated us. They planted the seed and watered it slowly, until the day it grew too big and had to be cut. As anyone that walks within your life will do.

Feed, water, repeat.

Within the moments of heavy breathing and gasping sessions of hysterics, you’ll find solidarity in the memories. The reminders of their laugh, their favorite song played at the right time, their found forgotten sweatshirt. In the hollow of wanting to tell them about your day, you will remember an argument that now makes you smile.

Tattoo yourselves with dates you won’t forget, then ask "Is that today?"

Smile at dropped feathers, hear meows that aren’t there, whisper “happy birthday” every year.

You will drive with purpose, and reminisce with yourself as you drive past those curbs, you will frame the photos.

Cover Image Credit: Pajomend

Popular Right Now

A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
27794
views

Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

To Those Who Feel The Need To Tear Down Others, Take A Seat

You have no right to hurt others because you don’t agree with them.

63
views

I recently wrote a super controversial article, which I'm honestly very proud of. In the comment section, there were plenty of people criticizing me because of what I believe in, mainly because they didn't believe in the same thing as I put out there.

I would just like everyone to know that the people that write for this amazing company are just that — people. They are real, they have opinions, and they have feelings. There is nothing different about them than you. Would you like someone commenting hate on your Facebook post or anything like that? No, no you wouldn't. When you comment rude things on something that someone worked long and hard on, you are just being rude and inconsiderate of their feelings.

If you just go to the comments to leave a rude comment, you can write it down on a piece of paper and throw it away. You're being a bully. These writers more than likely will go to the comment section, just like I did, and will be hurt by your arrogant, inappropriate comments.

Ever heard of if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all.

If you don't agree with me that's fine, but that doesn't give you the right to deliberately go and try and tear me or anyone else down. You're just being rude and you have no reason to be, all I did was write an article on something I believe in.

Also, don't let anyone rude enough to do this tear you down or diminish your self-worth. There are people out there who are still kind and caring, don't listen to the negativity this world brings. Just keep doing what makes you happy, because in the end, that's all that really matters.

Related Content

Facebook Comments