What Do You Say?

My job allows me to be around 100s of teenagers everyday. Each one comes into my room from various walks of life, with different beliefs and perspectives. Not a day goes by that these kids don't make me laugh, frustrated, intrigued and confused. But no matter what, I always learn something from the kids I meet. Currently, my 10th grade students are writing an Autobiographical Narrative Essay on a significant experience through which their perspective changed or learned a life lesson. I love this essay because I learn so much about my students, and I am privileged to take something away from each of them. Earlier this semester, I got an email regarding one of my students and how his father had died in a car crash this this summer. His counselor told me that he was obviously still learning to deal with this tragedy, and he has often times come into class late with red, teary eyes. For this essay, he decided to write about his misfortune. I asked him if he was truly comfortable with writing about the death; he told me he was and that this is the only thing on his mind anyway. I decided to share his essay with you. His name is omitted for privacy purposes. He has been on my mind a lot the last few days. I believe he is so strong and brave to share this story and to continue on despite the great sadness weighing on his shoulders. When he was telling me his story as I helped him with the essay, I found myself speechless and holding back my own tears because what do I say to a child who facing something beyond my own understanding?

An Unforgettable Day
How would you feel if you lost someone in your family that you loved very much? One of the most devastating experiences in my life was when my dad got in a car accident and passed away. I loved him very much and now he is gone. Before the accident, I was always so happy because my dad was around all the time and he was always there for me. One time, when I was having a bad day, I got home and he offered to hang out with me the rest of the day, and it totally made my day to just be with him. Another time that made me happy was when my dad and I went on a church mission trip to San Francisco for a week where we had to help out people who didn’t have homes or who had no money.

It all happened on July 5, 2009 and it had started out great with my family going to church. My little brother Ben was so excited; he was leaving for a summer camp called El Camino Pines, which is located in Frasier Park that afternoon. My parents, who had just gotten back from dropping him off at camp, were having an argument, and instead of talking it out my dad got in his car and drove away. That was his way of cooling off whenever he was mad, and it ended up being his last drive because that day he got in a car accident. My dad left the house at four-thirty that afternoon and I ran after him, but he was already gone, so I just went back inside. At ten p.m. that night, the highway patrol and coroner came to our house to tell us my father had passed away.

During the time the accident happened, I had been attending summer school, and I still had two weeks left, but my mom didn’t make me go the next few days. The next three days before the funeral was about my whole family and me making plans, finding pictures, and getting everything together. I got to pick what songs he would have wanted played at his funeral, and wrote down at least fourteen. Unfortunately, my family only used two songs and that made me sad, but I made sure that they were the songs that he really wanted to be played. Those two songs were “Natural Mystic” by Bob Marley, and “Come to Jesus” by Chris Rice. It felt just terrible to even be planning for the funeral.

On July ninth, my whole family was at the funeral, and I also asked some of my friends who knew my dad to come, and all of them did which made me very happy. The service was so nice because we showed all the pictures that we could find of him. I gave a speech about what a great man he was, and my little brother also spoke, along with my dad’s two brothers, sister, and father. After the service, all the people that came reminisced about my dad, and after that, we headed to the cemetery for the burial.

Before the accident, I wasn’t as sad as I am now. I learned that life can go by fast and that after losing my dad I need to live on and carry on his name even though it will be sad when I do things with my mom and brother that remind me of him. For instance, now whenever I watch one of the movies that he liked, I think of him during the whole movie. I also think about him when I listen to the music that he liked, which is all the music I listen to because he raised me with all of his music. Based on my experience, if you lose someone that is dear to you, sure you feel sad that they are gone, but the best thing to do to ease the pain is to just live on, remember all the good times you had with that person, and talk to someone every once in a while.

Share your thoughts :

  1. What a sweet and inciteful essay. He sounds like he is dealing with the loss maturely.

  2. What a sad situation for this young person. And how brave of him/her to share that experience. I wouldn't know what to say either...


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