This one word scares me more than any other word in the English language, but also makes me more excited than any other word. It makes me excited about what can happen, but also leaves me scared and like I am in a dark abyss.
The future is such a simple word, but it means so much more than anyone could ever explain.
Everything in my life right now is setting up my future. I have applied to college and committed to the best school for me, yet I still feel like I have no clue what my future actually holds. I know where I am going to be living and what I am going to be studying, but that’s all.
I do not know what friends I am going to have out there, where I am going to work, and the hardest one for me is that I do not know what I am going to do with my boyfriend. I don’t want to hold him back, but I also don’t want to let him go. We both want to live in the same state once we graduate college so I don’t know if I say bye if it will actually be bye and not see you later.
I am so excited to meet everyone and make new friends. I can’t wait to see how everyone will help me grow into the woman I am going to become. I can’t wait to find myself and learn how to be an adult. I am so excited to settle down, have my own family, live in my own house, and be in the only one in charge of my family.
I have the big things planned for my future, but the little things are still unknown and those are the things I really want to know. My future is such a blur and I am so scared to see what happens, but I am also so excited to watch it all unfold in front of my eyes.
When I was around six years old, I remember my parents slowly walking up to me in the morning and giving me a hug. They kneeled down beside me and said in a soft, slow, sad, and apologetic voice: “I’m sorry, honey. The raccoons got Mrs. Frizzel last night.”
I sobbed for hours. I was sad for days. I made my parents have a funeral. My tears fell to the ground as we buried my dead chicken. My parents bought a chick that I raised and loved, but I still missed Mrs. Frizzel.
When I was eight, Fluffy and Ginger passed away. My parents broke the news to me in the same way. I cried the same way as I had before. I got two more chicks.
When I was twelve, my parents again approached me with the same sad tone and told me that that a couple of our chickens died in their sleep. I didn’t cry as much when they died, partially because I was old enough to understand that everything dies of old age at some point. It was much more bearable. I would be sad, but not sobbing like I had done in the past.
Today, I came home and asked if he bought food at the store. He said no. Something happened, so he had to come home. “What I happened?” I asked.
“The neighbors dog got into our yard and into the chicken coop,” he said with a flat tone.
“You stopped right, the chickens are okay?”
“No,” he said. “They are dead, all but three are dead.” He said it with the same flat tone.
He just told me straight up, assuming I wouldn’t be sad. No soft, slow, sad, or apologetic voice. He patted my back and walked away.
I went outside. The corpses were gone. All that remained was feathers.
Eight year old me popped in to my mind. The funeral for Mrs. Frizzel. My parents stroking my back and telling me everything was going to be okay.
There would be no funeral, my dad had put their limp bodies in the trash before I came home. There would be no comfort from my parents. Fifteen year olds don’t cry when their chickens die.
I’m shouldn’t be sad. I’m too old to be sad. But, I’m sad.
I remembered holding the chickens when they were less than a week old. Moving them to the big coop when they were old enough. Hand-feeding them mealworms and celebrating the day that they laid their first egg.
I raised them. They are dead now.
If I was a child I would be sobbing in my parents arms. Now, I’m sobbing alone.
I know if I went to them they would comfort me, but there’s an age where you need to accept reality on your own.
Being treated like a child is now nonexistent. Just like my chickens.
When I was little, if I had a lot of homework, my parents would tell me I could do it and tell me I could have a cookie when I finished. Now, when I complain about my homework, they say lots of homework is part of growing up.
When I was little, my parents were by me at every moment to guide me through life. Now, I am old enough where I need to handle things on my own.
When I was younger, my parents could fix everything. They could make everything feel better. In their arms, I was safe.
Yes, the death of my chickens is part of the reason I’m crying. But, there’s more to the tears running down my cheek.
No matter how much I want to believe it, my parents can’t fix everything. As much as I want it to, they can’t hug me and make me not be sad. As desperately as I want to deny it, my parents can’t protect me anymore.
I don’t know why all of this came from a dog breaking into my chicken coop, but it did…
Rest in peace Lucky, Trouble, Darwin, Lemon, Pepper, Oreo, and Henry. I may not be a child anymore, but I still love you and miss you.
People come and go so fast. It’s almost like they’re here one day and gone the next. With a blink of an eye, a bullet is in their brain, a tumor is in their body, a rope is around their neck, lethal amounts of Codeine is in their system. You try to save them, but they’re already gone.
I beat myself up and ask over and over again: what could I have done to help you?
Why didn’t I realize? Looking back now it seems so obvious. I could have done so much to save you.
A text? A call? A drive up to LA? Would that have kept your heart beating?
Well, here’s the answer. No, I couldn’t have saved you, even as much as I wanted too. You may have had a pulse and air going through your lungs, but you were already gone.
It comes to a point where a person is faded to a point of no recovery, no matter how much you do, the sadness inside of them can never be erased.
You can tell so much by looking in someones eyes. Looking at your most recent photos, your eyes said it all. The color, the joy, the happiness, it was gone. Now, you are gone.
I blame myself a lot.
But sometime I’m going to have to realize, no matter how much I deny it, there is nothing I could have done.
It was growing in a garden box at school, so I pulled a leaf off of the plant and ate it.
It was a nice, sturdy piece of kale. It tasted pretty good. I continued munching on it as I walked over to the baseball field.
Kale can be a nice snack, if you’re into dark leafy greens. But, as many experienced plant-eaters know, raw kale is quite tough to chew.
My jaws were getting a little bit tired, so I switched over to eating a different leaf that I had also picked from the garden box. I’m not sure what plant this was, but it was softer and sweeter than the kale.
As I was chewing, I twirled the piece between my thumb and my pointer finger.
I started to study the leaves. The kale was dark and rough. It was much more aggressively textured than the other leaf.
It was at that moment when I stopped chewing, for I noticed dozens of very tiny, white bugs all along the sides of the leaves.
I swallowed my bite, then tossed the remnants of my half-eaten leaves aside. I decided not to dwell on it too much, because I didn’t want the thought of the bugs to take away from the otherwise positive experience I had eating them.
(I would like to apologize to the innocent lives I took that day. I didn’t thoroughly inspect the leaves before eating them, and that was selfish of me. To the bugs that once inhabited the kale: I am sorry.)
On a completely unrelated note, this morning my parents and I went out to our tangerine trees. It was time to prune them. After about an hour of picking fruit and chopping branches, my dad said to me: “This is a chore that very few other people your age have to do, but you have to remember that it just makes you more cosmopolitan.”
Though I didn’t really enjoy being outside when it was 40 degrees, I did find comfort in the fact that our work would provide more fruit for us next season.
I never realized it before, but I am so thankful that I know how to take care of citrus trees.
I live in a place where I am fortunate enough to grow my own food. I take that for granted.
I hope that I will always have this luxury, bugs and all.
but, we both know deep down that we will most likely never be fully okay.
i ask myself all the time… what could i have done better?
how could i have helped you, made you see what i saw in you?
you sat on the edge for a while, staring over the ledge at the busy freeway. i stood starring at you from below, sobbing.
in your mind, there was nothing to live for, nothing worth living for.
live for me, i thought. live for me. please live for me.
it’s selfish, but i needed you, in all honesty, i still do.
i loved you then, i love you now.
you didn’t jump because you knew that if you did, it wouldn’t kill you. you’d survive the fall and, when you woke up, you’d be sent to a place far worse than the center we were at.
i lived with you for two months in a residential treatment center for eating disorders until we were both discharged.
we suffered together, we cried together, but we laughed together too.
we’d talk in spanish complaining about the staff, we’d talk about boys, we’d talk about all the things we’d do once we got out of center for discovery (the treatment center we were at), and all things we would do together.
at the center, all sharp objects, from knives to pen caps, are locked in a cabinet which only the staff has a key too.
i remember that one night in our room. i heard a noise coming from your side of the room.
the staff who watches us at night had fallen asleep and someone had forgotten to lock away a pen cap.
you lay in bed, a broken pen cap in your hand, and blood on your wrists.
i ran to you and tried to take away the cap. you pushed me away, i lunged at you again and took it.
i grabbed your arms and forced them around me. you sobbed, begging for the cap. i could almost hear you internally begging to me, “end this please, end me please.”
you kept on saying please in between sobs. over and over again: “please.”
“shhh,” i whispered crying. “shhh”.
you were seventeen at the time, i was thirteen.
i was a ninety-pound, anorexic, thirteen-year-old girl living in a metal hospital.
you were a bulimic, suicidal, seventeen-year-old girl living in a mental hospital.
i held you for what felt like hours, i hugged you until you stopped crying.
i don’t see you much anymore, we talk sometimes though.
you were sent back to the center twice because you relapsed.
you seem better now though, you seem happy now, but i worry a lot.
you’re nineteen. if you go back to your old ways, you’re parents can’t legally force you back to the center, you’re an adult.
if you wanted to, you can find a bigger ledge, one that could end it all.
i can’t protect you anymore, i’m not there to grab the pen cap.
you are happy now, but we both know how fast things can change.
i hope you stay happy forever. please stay happy forever.
if you are ever sad, please tell me.
thirteen years old in a treatment center, fifteen years old in my room writing this, twenty years old wherever i’ll be then, no matter what age or what place, i will always be here to hold you.