April 11, 2018
My lungs slightly burned as I inhaled the cold December air. I sat at my usual spot at the far corner of the roof of my apartment building, facing the vast fields beyond the city. I rubbed my bare hands together for warmth, occasionally glancing at my watch as I waited restlessly for the sunset. I picked up the old camera at my side and turned it on in preparation for the sunset.
I looked down at the city below me and observed the citizens going about their daily lives. Couples walked hand in hand and teenagers laughed and gossiped loudly as they passed by. Families went into local restaurants and shops and those who had gotten off of work rushed to get home to their loved ones. These once familiar sights now seemed foreign to me, as I had barely left my apartment in the last three years, aside from going to work and grocery shopping.
It was difficult to do much of anything these days. Getting out of bed was beginning to be quite the chore as I no longer had the desire to be productive and successful in life. Four years ago on Dec. 15, my family and I were driving to a diner in my hometown when tragedy struck. The car in the opposite lane slipped on ice and crashed into us head on. I was the lone survivor of the crash. Both my family and the other driver were gone, just like that. All due to a small patch of ice. My sister had never understood my hatred for winter, her favorite season, but how could I not hate it? It had taken everything from me in an instant and left me all alone to pick up the pieces of my shattered life.
Times like this made me question my existence. Why did I live? Why was I given a second chance when the ones I loved were just cast away without a second thought? I had asked myself these questions over and over and always worked myself up into a sad, agitated mess.
Now, I let out a frustrated sigh and stood up on the ledge. It would be so easy to just step over the ledge and end it all. I could put a stop to my miserable life and see my family again.
The sun finally began its descent as I seriously began to contemplate ending my life. I leaned down and picked up my camera, peering into the viewfinder to find the perfect image to capture. Once I was satisfied with the view, I took the picture and heard an unfamiliar beep come from the camera. I looked down in surprise to see the storage was full. I’d had this camera for the past ten years and it was full of memories, both good and bad.
I scrolled through the photos and gazed at the smiling faces of my siblings at a birthday party, laughed at their eagerness to open presents one Christmas morning, and groaned longingly at the huge Thanksgiving dinner my mother and grandma had made. The more pictures I went through, the more weight seemed to be lifted from my shoulders, and I was finally able to breathe easier.
When I finished scrolling through all the photos, I set the camera down and wiped the few straggling tears from my eyes. I looked down once more at the street below and I could almost hear my family screaming at me for even considering ending it all.
I could imagine the distraught faces of my parents and the angry expressions of my siblings. I’d always hated disappointing my family, and even in death, I couldn’t bring myself to let them down. Taking a step down off the ledge, I thought back to all the happy memories we had shared. A small smile crept to my lips.
My family would want me to live my life to the fullest and stop mourning them, I realized. Their time had come to a tragic end, and while it was difficult, I had to move past it. With a newfound determination, I collected my belongings and stepped away from the ledge. It was time for me to start living again, but not just for me.
I would start living for my family.