What Death Made Me Realize

Life is full of uncertainty, so much so that the only certainty we have when we are born is that we will die.

If you think about it, we have a whole lifetime to process the fact that we will die… The big question is: Why are we so scared by death? And if you aren’t, I’m so sorry for the generalization, but I’m petrified by the idea of dying.

I normally don’t think about the end of life as we know it, but back in January of this year my 7th grade humanities teacher passed away. When I found out I was about to enter the movie theater to watch La La Land and my brain didn’t take time to process the information. When I came out of the movie theater I wasn’t thinking about her anymore, I was daydreaming about Ryan Gosling instead.

We weren’t especially close. She was a great teacher and she always treated me with respect, but I didn’t feel the need to mourn her. However, today at school a group of students dedicate a song to Charo and others shared anecdotes, I found myself in the verge of tears. I started asking myself if I had any anecdotes worth standing up and sharing. The first anecdote was a silly one, of how she would use a water spray on a guy that sat beside me whenever he did something stupid. The next anecdote I thought of wasn’t amusing to think about at all.

Back in the 7th grade I was over stressed. I didn’t realize it myself, but it got to the point where I had been told by everyone (friends, family, teachers). When they talked to me all I did was nod because everything I heard was “Blah, blah, blah.” Until one day she asked me to stick around after the class was dismissed. She sat me down and started giving me the same chat all those who worried about my stress had given me. And all I did was nod until she said something that has stayed with me.

“Stop stressing or you’ll die before I do.”

If Charo would have been 25 when she told me this, maybe it could have been possible for me to die before her, but she had grandchildren already. But for me her spirit wasn’t older than 30.

There was something about the way she said it, like the words that had poured out of her mouth where reeked in truth. I don’t know when the tears started but by the time I left her classroom my face was drenched.

I don’t really remember what she told me after saying those eight words. All I know is that those words are somehow eternally stored in my brain. The events of today triggered me to think about this past experience and brought a wave of sadness along with it.

I didn’t know why I was sad. Of course realizing that someone is gone is sad, but I’d seen it happen before. I thought that maybe it saddened me because I was never gonna be able to thank her for what she did for me, or maybe the fact that she would never be able to see my improvement.

I came up with the conclusion that what made me so sad, what brought me to the verge of tears wasn’t the death of a mother, a loving friend, a caring teacher. I’m unfortunately too selfish to spill tears because of that. I felt like crying because I realized that things were starting to change and I love change; it’s exciting but sometimes it’s more terrifying than anything else. The scariest thing about the change I was sensing was that it was unstoppable because there is no way to not grow up.

As a kid everything is about you. You have your parent’s eyes on you 24/7; you have your teacher’s undivided attention. You think it’s a right to have people there to assist you and truly care for you. The thing is that as you grow up and you become an adult, you aren’t the center of attention anymore: you are the helping hand to the younger, like someone else was for you. Your life isn’t about taking anymore, but it’s about giving.

The truly sad part (as well as the scariest) is that once you grow older so will the people who helped you. Your grandparents, teachers, uncles and aunts are gonna age as well and slowly start leaving your life.

The passing away of Charo Castañeda has brought a new sort of worry into me that I hadn’t thought of before. There will come a time where all of those who made me their center of attention will be gone.

The passing away of Charo Castañeda made me realize that getting attention shouldn’t be taken for granted, it’s a privilege to have someone help and support you.

The passing away of Charo Castañeda made many of us cry, for different reasons. She was a remarkable woman; the lessons she taught us won’t be forgotten and she will be forever present in our heart.

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