“I have something important to tell you,” he said after knocking on my bedroom door. My eyelids shuttered. They told me I hadn’t gotten enough sleep. I lifted my head to see the clock. The last time I had been up before the sun, four police officers stood in my doorway. My father continued, “So when you’re ready, just come on out for a minute.”
He seldom acted this way, but I recognized his fervor. He spoke in a calming tone which held palpable earnestness. His composure in the face of calamity always was admirable, sometimes seeming as if it was only strengthened by the most ruinous of conditions. My mind began sifting through thoughts of why my father summoned me. Just as quickly, my judgment disregarded them. Two additional voices came from the kitchen. I swung the comforter to the side and stood up, feeling the chill of the morning air as the world still slept, as if it would always be sleeping.
I yawned, scratching my head in restlessness and wonder as I reached for the door. Trudging towards the dining room, my uncertainty and heart rate increased, complimenting each other in the most disconcerting way. My step mother and Rick, a family friend, sat side by side at the table. Rick’s presence so early in the day was peculiar—the only necessary proof that something had happened. Like my father’s, his demeanor was palliative and unswaying and envied. Moira glanced at me with sorrowful eyes. In three years as her stop son I had never seen her cry. I felt pain.
My dad approached me, and I crossed my arms in hopes that the thumping in my chest would decelerate. It did the opposite as he finished his brief explanation, his words sobering and final. It is unconventional to me; that I can be told of something that generated such anger and concern, such helplessness and despair, and answer to such an atrocity with nothing but silence. More of Moira’s tears hit the table.
I remembered Amanda. Though we had only spoken a few times, my memory was powerful. She was my age. In three weeks, she would have played in her first lacrosse match with a new team. Like myself, she had been attending college and working part time. Our lives—the journey of finding ourselves—had just begun. The commonality fueled my sentiments. The afternoon hours of the day were accompanied by a cloudless sky not as blue as her eyes, and my somber thoughts permeated into the evening. We were in the same phase of life; a phase that, personally, consisted of daily thoughts questioning my future. Not whether I would have one, but what I planned on doing with it.
There are chances I have been taking—decisions involving work, education, passions, and my social life. Decisions: choices I have made that I will reconsider the following day. I reconsider out of fear. The unknown creates a perception in my head that prevents me from exploring certain interests. I fear the risks of working instead of attending school. I would stress less about finances, but it’s not guaranteed that my opportunity to attend college will always exist. The same scenario applies to my love for music. If I devote my life to it, I could sign a million dollar record deal accompanied by national tours, sports cars, and endless bottles of vintage Dom Pérignon. Or perhaps I would never see the inside of a professional studio. The potential failures of ultimate devotion are frightening.
Amanda’s passing serves as an admonition to me. Like many, I have endured trials and tribulations. Now, at the age of twenty one, I live with the resources and sustenance necessary to heighten my chances of success. It is effortless to take my means for granted; effortless because they create my reality, a truth whose accuracy lives only in my existence. But while I’m being indecisive about what program I want to major in, there are people that pray for a basic education. While I’m worried about the future role I’ll play in supporting my family, there are those who will never meet their parents.
During the days following the loss, I developed a new mindset. I’ve become propelled to notice my fortunate circumstances in all their glory. This realization helps break down the fear that so often holds me back. I have one life; why shouldn’t I live like it? Too long have I considered myself undeserving of my privileges. Too long have I vacillated when pursuing my dreams, concerned that I may fail. But failing is beautiful. I’m blessed to have opportunities that may lead me to do so. It is how I stay true to myself. It will determine who I become. It’s up to me to take action, and to embrace these failures to achieve happiness.
Amanda, the niece and god-daughter of Moira, took her own life. The young, radiant woman could not have asked for more friends, more intelligence, or more beauty. Yet, she was irresolute of her role in this world, and no is longer with us. The thought of why is irrational, but she was burdened by circumstances that confined her. Hundreds mourned and will continue to do so. Despite my sympathy, I choose to learn. I focus not on the loss, but instead what it signifies. I recognize my good fortune.