Creative Writing / Repeat after me: death. And other essays. / The Latest

#16 Never end up like me

Ever since I was a child, you repeated in my ear, “Never end up like me.” I used to think I knew what that meant. I thought it meant getting out of our small town. I thought it meant getting all the papers that society required for you to prove your smarts. I thought it meant finding dreams in foreign places. I thought it meant being able to let go of all the hurt you could not walk away from. I thought it meant reconciling myself with the love I had and the love I would never be able to earn. I thought it meant earning money and having jobs. I thought it meant doing everything you wanted to, but couldn’t.

I feel the loss of all the things you should have been, could have been, wanted to be, deserved to be as I struggle to figure out what it means, “Never end up like me.”

I won’t know all of who you were. That isn’t important. I won’t always remember every smile and turn of phrase. Yet, somewhere frozen in my mind are early morning coffees under the morning sky as we think about what to cook for dinner. Even as that memory fades too, I will remember how you made me feel; loved beyond measure.

Maybe “Never end up like me” is about finding a peace you never knew. Maybe it is about trying to find yourself and forgive yourself in a world that wants to put you down. Maybe it is learning to let go. Maybe it is about giving up the guilt of not being your protector. Maybe it is learning to believe you have a place in the world, even if you don’t see it.