Electric Blue
Everyone in my class had to write a 500-word essay about what they believe. My "This I Believe Essay" is about the death and aftershock of my friend's father's death, and finding confidence from it. It was incredibly hard for me to write - I had rarely ever talked about how the death had affected me before. The 500 word limit made telling the story much harder. I had to cut out a lot of my original piece, including my favorite paragraph, to fit in the ending. I learned that sometimes it helps to let out your feelings, and that I should save a marvelous story like this one for an essay with a much greater word limit.

        Twenty-three days after my thirteenth birthday, I came to school excited despite the hated fog of Carmel creeping through the sky and seeping into my skin. I walked to the gym for assembly and sat down on the floor next to my friend. 

        “Hi Mila! Guess...” I began, but something made me stop. Maybe it was her hidden, puffy red eyes staring at the ground, her ghostly pale hands faintly shivering, or the quick, meaningful glances the teachers were shooting her. Maybe it was instinct. Whatever it was, it told me something was very, very wrong.

        Before I could ask anything, the Principal walked to the front and began announcements. Hard as I tried, Mila wouldn’t make eye contact. I sat there, worried, millions of thoughts spinning like a dangerous whirlwind through my head, unable to think of any possible, reasonable answer.

        Mila got up and walked away the second assembly ended. I turned to my other friend, Chloe.

        “What happened?”

        “It’s a... family issue,” she responded, and didn’t say anything else.
        I didn’t let myself think of the matter again until snack. I pestered Mila for answers, even though I knew it was probabaly paining her. Chloe finally signaled me to stop with an Alanna-you’re-HURTING-her glance. Moments later snack ended and Mila left. Chloe stayed behind. What she said next changed my life.

        “Alanna, yesterday, Mila’s dad and dog died in a car accident.”


        The rest of the day passed in a blur, then the next, then the next. I steadily grew more aware that I couldn’t understand what my friend was going through without experiencing it myself. I felt guilty for being lucky, getting the loss-free life. Then I began to feel guilty for all my other strengths, my “A’s,” triumphs and compliments. Eventually I felt so horrible about my achievements that I refused to see them, and looked only at my weaknesses. I lost hope, expectations, confidence.

        I was on the golf team that year, with nearly no clue how to play the sport. On the way to one game, we were talking about the last year’s team. Our coach said something about one person – their name fails me – whose fault stuck to me like glue for a long time.

        “...He was good at golf,” she said. “He just didn’t believe he could play.”

        I pondered what she said a couple times, but never really understood what she meant. A week or two passed by. I played in a few games, never really enjoying myself.

        It was at a game soon later when I discovered something while uncertainly preparing to swing. I looked back and forth from the ball to the target millions of miles away. I looked at the ball again, swung, and thought: I’m never going to do this right. I suck at golf. I suck at everything.

        And then it hit me, the club slowing to a metal blur and righting in my hands, a smile sneaking across my face.

        I was low on confidence. I can’t just look at the bad side of my life. I can do whatever task is laid in front of me, so long as I believe I can do it. And even if I dread the foggy future ahead, if I have confidence I will succeed.
Deborah Rich
2/5/2010 03:33:15 am


I think that you were very courageous to examine and communicate your thoughts the way you did in this essay.

Tom's death left me with so many questions, not the least of which was: Why him? Why not me? Why do I get to continue to delight in Benjamin's laughs, in Mila's writings and baskets?

Sometimes those questions have led me to think: I can't do this, I don't know how to parent on my own, I can't make things fun for Mila and Benjamin like Tom did so easily.

More recently, rather than trying to answer the questions, I have been trying to be at peace with having the questions, to trust that I'll get the answers in time, that the universe is unfolding as it should, and that I have to play my role, and play to my strengths, as best I can.

I hope you will delight in your many talents; they are a blessing to us al.



Leave a Reply.

    About Me

    I love playing bass guitar, listening to music, and laughing so hard with my friends that people stare at us (at which point we laugh harder).


    February 2010
    January 2010