Life is to each of us exactly how we choose to live it. Operative word here would be LIVE. Most people never actually live life, they merely sit looking in the window as if Window Shopping. Be sure you're not one of them.
Until now your life has been pretty sheltered. This year will challenge you more than you could possibly ever imagine. Life and the way you view it is about to change.
Every year as a child you looked forward to summer breaks from school. This year you chose to work at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. This is your first real look at the outside world. While working there you will meet a large variety of people from all back grounds. You will be subjected to the first person to really show you hate and disdain. She’s just jealous of your youth. You can’t see that now, but looking back some day you’ll realize it was pity you should have had for her and prayers she could have used. You’ll meet a guy who will show you that people will stand up for you against all other odds. He is a friend you still think and wonder about from time to time. You really didn’t appreciate him the way you should have then. Death will play a big part in the year ahead. You’ve been sheltered from that too. Your parents loved you and didn’t want you to know about all the ugly and painful things in the world. Perhaps they should have let you fall a little more often. The first death will be someone you had a major crush on in high school. He was in your brother’s class and graduated that summer. He was popular and a straight A student. Strange he probably never knew you thought he was perfect at the time. You will take a break at work one day and read the paper. You’ve always had a morbid infatuation with the obituaries so you will be leafing through and find his obituary there. Not only that but as you leaf through the rest of the paper you will find an article about how he hung himself and took his own life in a hotel room in Florida. You will feel crushed and full of confusing emotions. The article covers the hardships of popular students going out into the real world. By summers end you’ll understand as you see more of what people are like. You’re not really a kid anymore. The way people treat you as an adult is completely different. It’s not the individual items I want you to take from this, but the reality that life changes daily and the innocence of childhood is something to hold onto as long as you can. I also want you to understand more of how to look through other people’s eyes. We are all human with our own pains and sorrows. Often people hurt us without even knowing they are. Humans get caught up in their own emotions and sometimes that blinds them to the effect what they are doing has on other people. By the end of the year you will have lost your grandmother. Again your emotions will be full of confusion and pain. Things we believe in youth show not to be reality as we get older. She won’t be there for your graduation. She won’t be there to see you get married or to hold your first child. These are all emotions that swell up in you. You also for the first time will understand that your parents will not always be here as you watch your father cry for the first time openly in front of you at the loss of his mother. He’s human. Not a concept many children really understand. For the first time your dad is human in your eyes. You should have opened up to someone during this time to let them know the emotions you really were having, but you didn’t. You held them inside and tried to be strong. Strength is what you’ve grown up believing is what you need most. Let me correct that for you. Showing emotions and being honest and outspoken with those around you regarding your real feelings is not weak. It’s stronger than silence ever will be. Yet that year you did nothing. You told people you were fine. You sat at a funeral that tore you apart and pretended your world wasn’t crashing down around you. Let me warn you… Feelings like that being bundled inside build anger and frustrations that can lead you down a path you can’t easily get off of.
So what I would hope you would take from this with you is that you need to be a kid while you can. Youth is fleeting. I know that is cliche but in this case as it would be true. Always do things that you will be proud of as you get older. Hold strong in your convictions and open up about how you are feeling with those you love. Be understanding of other people. Give them second chances and even more than that. Yet know when to walk away from them and be okay in the knowledge that you had done all you could. Tell people what you want them to know now. Tomorrow isn't promised to anyone and death comes from everyone. Understand that death should be embraced but not striven for or feared. Don't worry about the little things... I will be here with you for the duration, as my journey has only begun.