The Greatest Gift


(Credit: Pixabay use Pexels)

Bezawit O'Neill '23, Features Editor

This quarantine experience has been quite an interesting one. I remember when they first announced schools were being canceled, I was very angry because all I could think about was the inconvenience it brought me. I wanted to be in school with my friends, I wanted to go on our Ireland trip because I wanted to travel with my school friends and experience a new sense of independence. I didn’t want to be forced to stay at home all day and wear masks every time I stepped out the door. So anger was the first wave of emotion for me. 

Then after some time,  I thought this isn’t too bad, I mean I get to sleep in, only four classes a day, and extra time to do anything I want. Besides I figured by May 4th we will all be back to normal anyways. You can say that the second wave went better than the first, but come May 4th and school was still out, I was discouraged. May 4th had been something I could hold onto. Something that kept my hopes up, a sort of goal I could aim for. When they announced that school had been canceled for the rest of the year, everything kind of went off. Even on hard stressful days, I had been able to keep my spirits up before, but for the couple of weeks that followed, everything felt so wrong. I went into what I call  now “my self-pity phase.” I was sensitive, I was eggy and cranky and nothing I did seemed right or fulfilling.  

It was during a particularly slow day I decided to call a friend of mine to whom I haven’t talked to in a while. Her father had been sick, so she and her brother had gone up to Vermont with him till he recovered. She didn’t pick up, so  I sent her a quick text. “ Hey, I just wanted to say hi, Hope your dad is all better, how is everyone?” Just before I went to bed I checked my phone, and what I saw put me in complete shock. “ “Hey, my mom just passed away last week, so it’s been a tough week for us.” That’s it. I had to read it over and over again before what she said even registered. Her mum was the healthiest person I’ve ever met, what does she mean she passed away. I couldn’t believe it. I was in complete shock, it just didn’t even make sense. We haven’t talked in a while but it was only about three weeks. It just felt so unreal.

I had been sitting around the house feeling sorry for myself while my poor friend was going through something I can’t even begin to understand. I can’t believe I had been so selfish, so ungrateful. I had a mum and dad who loved me so much, I had siblings and friends all around me, and still, I complained, I moped about thinking only of me. The tears I had been holding on to for so long finally came, but they weren’t for me. They were for my friend’s mom, Karen. Karen who had helped me make my Lion King costume, Karen who had cooked dinner for my whole family, who had welcomed me to her home and had been so wonderful to me. Who had driven me home countless times after a sleepover,  who had laughed and talked with me as we got lost on our way to my house.  This was a woman who cared so much about others and the world, and she was taken away. Why? It just doesn’t seem fair. 

Life is such a beautiful gift, and I don’t think it’s appreciated as much as it should. I think we take living for granted, and live everyday confidant that there is going to be a tomorrow. I know I have. My mum constantly reminds me to make sure I get the best out of each day, but I’ve always shrugged it off thinking, I’m still young, I’ve got plenty of time. But I don’t know that. Only God can tell how long we have, for when he says it’s time, there is nothing we can do. Karen, as I said, was the healthiest person I knew. She ate well, she exercised, she did everything in her power to protect herself and her family. I thought she had a long time to live, but just like that, she was gone.

We need to stop taking life for granted, and wake up and thank God for another day in this wonderful world. There may be terrible things happening, we may be going through hard times, but what counts is we are here. Each day, we have been given yet another chance to live and grow, so let’s not waste it. Let’s not get lost in self-pity because something didn’t go as planned, let’s learn to take each challenge and find something beautiful. As a wise person once said, “Everyday may not be a good day, but there is good in everyday.” We need to be able to look for the good in difficult situations, and work together to come through. We need to learn to live and not just exist.

Please keep Karen and all her family in your prayers, and make sure you tell your parents and loved ones how much you appreciate and love them every single day. 

Bezawit O’Neill ’23, Faith Editor