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“In the event of my death, all my possessions will go to my wife, Joanna H. Lee.” I read it again. As I slowly laid down the will on the well-glossed mahogany table, a series of perturbations and sorrows left me in a state of apprehension. The words, “I love you,” could be the last words I would ever hear from my father. All I could do is pray for his surgery-pray that not it would be successful and his gastrointestinal cancer would be gone.
I was different. My first year of high school was different. My goal was different. Freshman year was a year of fear. Only months after the surgery, I was afraid; afraid I might have to dial the three numbers I never imagined I’d call again. I remember those sirens wailing, those red and white lights screaming through the breathless night. I remember the IV tubes I would set up next to my father’s bed. I remember the car ride home from chemotherapy, the white face sucked of life, straining in agonizing pain.
But that’s not what I remember most vividly. The emotion and stress of my sophomore year is what will stay with me forever. I remember the countless days I would not buy lunch. I remember when my parents would find two hundred dollars left in the bank account at the end of each month. I remember how our family was unemployed for over two years. But most of all, I remember my pitiful emotions, full of anger and melancholy, and contemplating death. It was too much for me: the health of my father, the acetic life, the financial problems, the road to college, and the possibility of moving. I gave up. I know I shouldn’t have, but I did. I gave up on school, college, and studying. Oblivious to grades, I desperately fought through each day, hoping for night, where I could escape from my problems.
I do not know where the road would have taken me if I had kept on that path. Thankfully, I turned back. My best friend Isaac, the varsity track star and winner of the regional science fair, was one of my only friends left at the most desperate point in my life. He had great dreams to go to an excellent college and excel in life. Then he was diagnosed with leukemia. Leukemia. When I learned this, I stopped myself from sinking in despair and recognized how fortunate I was to be healthy and alive. I decided to turn back and refocus my life. Isaac’s dreams were ruined while I was wasting my life.
The pain and tragedy of those years hit me hard. I remember wanting to run away from reality, and the tears of anger and pain trickling down my face. I never want to feel that again. But, I will always carry with me the urgency and devotion to excellence of the summer after sophomore year, the days where I would wake up before dawn to study. I remember the smile on Isaac’s face when I organized a school-wide fundraiser to buy him a Christmas present. I remember going into my junior year, working twice as hard as everyone else to compensate for the previous year when I did not study. I remember the sense of accomplishment after my junior year. For the rest of my life, I will continue on this path. I will never again take all I have for granted.
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