about a girl
Kurt Cobain once said that the world lacked empathy. What happens when it’s the complete opposite? When you care excessively? I used to think I could save anyone I came in contact with. Kind of like a super-hero. I took on the title without fearing the responsibilities. I just knew people needed saving, and if not I, then who? I remember being thirteen years old, and living in this bubble. My reality, that no one would dare burst. Death was not something I really understood. It happened to other people. Persons would grieve their loved ones, however it was such a foreign concept to me. My cousin Yuli was someone who marked my life, at such a young age. She was beautiful. Perfect smile, long black hair, light brown eyes. She was the older cousin whom I looked up to. Her life seemed so adventurous. She had an older boyfriend who was obsessed with her, she was always the life of the party, and she did absolutely everything I wasn’t allowed to do. She snuck out, she wore the tiniest shirts that showed her perfectly pierced belly button, wore heels with cute jeans. One Sunday afternoon she visited me after church, back when we lived in a tiny apartment on Fox Street. I don’t remember much of our conversation, but she confided in me. That night as she told me she was pregnant and made me swear to her I wouldn’t tell a soul, she seemed scared, vulnerable for the first time. I promised her that everything would be okay. (This is not something thirteen-year-olds should promise, ever.) Yuli was eighteen years old when Lupus grabbed ahold of her body. That summer, I went to visit her at the hospital. She had lost all her hair from the aggressive chemo and soon became really ill. Her eyes looked weak. She smiled when she saw me, and my heart ached for her. The nurse came in to give her, her daily cocktail of little round, variety of pills. She grabbed the cup of water the nurse gave her with shaky, unsteady hands, as the nurse gave her all her pills, and her hands were trembling so much she spilled the water all over herself. The nurse helped her, and she seemed embarrassed by it. I was traveling that summer and I went to see her before I left. I wore my hair straight and long, my favorite blue checkered button down from Old Navy, and my navy blue hightop Chuck Taylor’s. She looked at me, and said: “Your hair…it looks beautiful.” She had a gleam in her eye. “Don’t worry Yuli, when you get out of here we’ll go shopping and buy you a wig,” I said to her, and she started laughing so hard she snorted. We both laughed madly. That was the last time I saw her. Yuli passed away at the beginning of that fall in September. As a thirteen-year-old eighth grader, I didn’t exactly know how to react. It all just happened so fast. One moment we were laughing making plans for the future, and the next, she just wasn’t physically there anymore. Over the years, I’ve mourned people that I grew apart from, those that I left in my old hometown, people whom I’d never even met, but were ripped away from this earth too soon. We continue to lose people every day. This morning a girl I went to high school with lost her life in a horrific automobile accident. She died on the scene. The more I think about life, and how fragile it is, I think: LIFE IS SHORT! Go on that vacation you’ve always dreamed of, dance in the rain, fall in love, travel the world, take pictures—lots of them. Laugh until your ribcage hurts, make mistakes, take risks, Get your heart broken. I used to think living free, and dying young were words to live by. God, was I wrong. Want to know something friend? Life is beautiful. The highs and the lows, being on the mountaintop and being in the valley. I’m constantly learning. My creator says I’m a work in progress, and heck, I am. There are days where I feel I’m on top of the world and days where I’ll fall right off the high horse, only to have my body dragged through the mud. See friend, life will happen to you. There’s no avoiding it. Each day I’m reminded of my Heavenly Father’s abundant grace. While life is fragile, I’m not afraid. I know that when my day comes, I look forward to spending eternity with him. In the meantime, I’m living for those that no longer can. I can’t change the fact that bad things happen to good people or end homelessness, sickness, or the fact that I care too much. Someone once told me too much empathy is a gift and a curse, and often times it’s left me wounded. And yet, I’ll choose empathy over and over again. Because there are some people that will never get to forgive, or have a family of their own, or even get to grow old. And so, Friend, I’m just a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve quite often than she’d like to, refers to herself in the third person, and is a work in progress in the hands of her Heavenly Father.