My Reality and The Lessons I’ve Learned

I guess now this has become my story or in reality the burden that has to rest on my shoulders for the rest of my life.


At the age of 10, I had an ideal life. I had a mother who encouraged me to do well in school and was big on family, and overall believed the key to life was spreading happiness and being kind to others. I had a father who stayed home and took care of me before and after school. I had an older sister who was considered the genius out of us two and would fight with me on occasion but still cared about me. We lived in a comfortable-sized house that felt bigger due to the amount of love I felt existed there.


In late September one evening, I remember my birthday was quickly approaching and I sat downstairs on the countertop while my mom was leaning against the counter, listening to me babble about numerous ideas of what kind of birthday party I’d like to have. She stopped me from babbling on whatever birthday party theme was in trend at the time ,and just looked at me and said "I am truly the luckiest mom in the world to have such an amazing daughter like you."


In that moment, I didn't think that would be the last time I would see my mother's smile or hear her words of encouragement. I never thought that it was the last time I would have my mother's arms wrapped around me knowing everything was going to be okay.


It was the last time with her, and I still have difficulty to this day feeling like I could've done so much more.


When I first learned of death I was about 5-years-old. One evening when we went out to dinner the subject of an individual passing away came up. As a 5-year-old I didn't understand how someone could be living and breathing one second and then just vanish. I remember being mortified running into the bathroom with tears running down my face. My mom ran in after me and calmed me down. Later that night in bed I kneeled looking out the window with my hands clasping together. I had never been truly religious and knew little about praying, but I knew when people had wishes that they would kneel and wish for those dreams to happen. I prayed to anything or anyone who could hear my thoughts and wanted to listen to not take away my mom, dad, or my sister. I did this almost every night with hopes it would protect my family.


The day I turned 11, I was clueless to the fact of how much I was going to bury when we buried my mom the next day.


When we lost my mom, we lost the Christmases that were always filled with smiles as we tore the wrapping off of the gift boxes, we lost the camping trips my mother put together, and we lost the little things and moments that made us the happiest.


I always tried my best to pitch in and fill in the holes that formed within our lives when my mom died, but that was a huge task to ask an 11-year-old girl to do. My mom's presence could never be fully restored and I've had to live with that for a long time. Both my sister and dad gave up on trying to restore the presence she had, but I never did and don't ever want to.


As most individuals know, college is not cheap nor an easy task. It's nerve-wracking and terrifying. I chose my schools on my own, and knew I had the dream of going to New York for a long time. Noticing how steep the prices were made me turn my head more towards a large university, which ended up being University of Arizona.


In August of my freshman year of college, my father started to feel very weak, and was unable to scrap the feeling that something was severely wrong. He went silent, and didn’t mention to anyone of his worries. In the month of September, I received a call from my dad at college telling me that he was diagnosed with colon cancer that had spread to his liver. No surgical procedure could be performed or done to stop the pain, other than chemo.


He is not one of the emotional sorts and I didn't know how to approach anything. Any thought of losing my father scared me. The thought I could be parentless before I even graduated college was not something even the 5-year-old Emma looking up into the stars praying could comprehend. The thought of dropping out of college and various other huge decisions always remained on my mind. I could never help but feel guilty that I couldn’t save him, or make his pain go away.


I decided to stay. I decided that it was best to continue my education, and make myself some sort of foundation and feel comfortable that even when he was gone I’d be able to stand on my own two feet. That decision didn’t come easy and it still isn’t easy to bear with. It wasn’t out of selfishness, and I won’t ever let myself believe it was.


This past year, I’ve truly learned what it means to be optimistic and to have hope. I’ve learned that with all that decides to come my way, what gets me through the day is the love and strength I find within myself. I have choice in what I decide to be, how I interact with others, who I surround myself with. It is good to have feelings, acknowledge them, and express them. Nothing is ever hopeless.

Whenever someone asks me what my favorite color is, I tell them that I love the rainbow. Life is just like a rainbow. It’s an array of different colors, different emotions, different shades. You must see that color and live every shade and understand even how messy that rainbow might be, it is such a beautiful and wonderful mess that is all your own. No life and no rainbow is exactly alike. It’s up to every individual to make their rainbow as bright and beautiful as they want to.


So this is my rainbow, and I’m ready to make it as bright and colorful as it can be.