It's Your Decision
I desperately needed to get out of this place. All the grief and despair was weighing on me like a heavy fog that was pushing me down, and down. I made my way hastily out of the full church, pushing through the thick crowds. All searched my face, I couldn't handle it. I jogged down the street of our busy city.
This was summer. It was supposed to be the time of our lives. Nobody should have to wear black during the summer...nobody should have to go to their best friends funeral either.
I finally turned the corner to Central Park and sat down on a bench. I looked out at the green grass, the trees, and people playing with their kids, and dogs. How does life just seem to keep going when something like this happens? Don't they know who he was? What he meant to me? My future has seemed to stop. How can I go on?
I remember last week, getting the letter in the mail. "Congratulations, you have been accepted..." We were so excited.
When you live in inner city New York, you don't have many privileges. When you've never had a mother because she left you when you were a baby, and your father has to work to support you and your brother and sister, it doesn't give you many places to go. When you are told in school that you will never be good enough, you can try, but don't expect much, how can you succeed? When you have one person in the world, one person that believes in you, that you can trust, and suddenly he's gone, tell me. Where you can go from there?
He always told me, "Hannah, you are such a pessimist." I told him that I just didn't have many options. He asked me what was limiting me, so I told him, parents, teachers, my job.
No, he said and I just looked at him. What did he mean?
My dad wasn't going to pay for me to go to a University where I could pursue my dreams; if you can call them dreams... dreams-that-could-never-come-true-so-why-bother-trying was more like it. Can you tell me how many people have become truly successful in the music business that weren't funded by their parents? Not that many. My teachers at school weren't exactly motivating me either. All the teachers in my school are just trying to get through the day so they can go home to their families as well. My boss... like he would give me a break, I can barely get 15 hours a week, let alone tuition to some big preppy school of the Arts.
That is when he came into my life. He moved into the apartment building my family lived in. We met on the elevator one day, he asked me to a movie. I said no, but he convinced me that I was afraid of taking chances. He asked me what I was afraid of, in going to the movies with him. I didn't have an answer. He told me I was pessimistic. We were friends ever since, and also, I was no longer a pessimist.
He gave new meaning to my life. He told me that no one was limiting me but myself, and I started to believe him. It was not the circumstance you were in, but what you decided to get out of it. He would know that better than anyone. From then on it was up to me how my life turned out. It was my decision.
Everything seems different now. Now that he is gone, the cup that used to seem half full is now half empty. He was the one person that made me believe in myself. Now I don't even know how I got the scholarship to that school... I took the chance on that audition only because he believed I could do it. I can't believe he's gone. The doctors said he only had a few years, but I didn't ever really believe that. I guess that's why he believed in me so much, because he didn't really have a future of his own.
He taught me something, and now that he is gone, I am scared again; scared of what will happen if I make the wrong decision, scared to make decisions. I feel like all the confidence has leaked out of me; like a hole in a boat, and if I do something wrong, or take a chance and fail, I will sink.
Last week we were so excited when that letter arrived. For once I had believed in myself, truly believed I was worth something. I remember that happy feeling, something that seems out of reach.
I smile, remembering the look in his tired eyes, as they welled with tears, "I'm so proud of you," He said. I'll never forget him. He made me not scared.
He had his life set out for him, with a deadline. What I am beginning to realize, is that everyone has a deadline; we just don't know exactly when it is. He knew what it was to live like he was dying. I think that he also knew that, that was the way we should all live. Simply because death is inevitable. You will die. Even if you do live to be a hundred; you still have to do what you can now to make your life the best it can be today.
When you are one hundred years old you don't want to look back with regret because you were too afraid of what would happen if you took the chance, the chance that could be life-altering. How do you want to alter your life today so that you can achieve your dreams tomorrow? He taught me that. He wasn't afraid. He was never afraid.
The tables in my head have started to turn on me. How can I be afraid? The most important person in my life taught me not to be afraid. Now that he is gone... it would be wrong to be scared.
Now the thing that scares me the most is what will happen to my life if I decide not to choose the things that seem scary.
Walking into a new school in a month, with thousands of people I don't know, people who could like me or befriend me, and at the same time, others who could criticize me and try to push me down. It is my decision how I react to whatever happens now. Now that it is my decision again, and I remember what he taught me, the world seems like a brighter place.
In my life, I will fall. I know I will. The thing is, it's not about where you fall, or when, or how hard. It's how fast you pick yourself up and get right back to where you left off.