Imagine with me for a moment. You live in a meadow. In your meadow you live your life with no regard to anyone outside of your circle of meadow friends. One day, you come across a small tree. On a hot day, like this one in particular, you find yourself under the shade of the tree. Without even acknowledging the tree’s existence, you spend more and more time beneath the tree. You walk by it, without knowing it. You start to forget about the tree, just expecting it to be there. Then one day, you walk past the tree, expecting it to be there--but it’s not. You do a double take, retrace your steps. No tree. It is then that you realize what the tree represented. It was a small and neglected tree, but it gave you so much without even noticing. Everyone has a “tree” in his or her life. It’s a personal choice whether or not one chooses to acknowledge that tree.
When I was a sophomore in high school, the tree in my life changed my life. I ate lunch with my best friend every day first semester and at our table, there was this kid. His name was Jacob. He had a crush on my best friend, and unbeknownst to him, she was not interested. But still Jacob would grace us with his presence at lunch. He offered us curly fries, chocolate milk, and skittles. He was never obnoxious or annoying, but always sweet and polite. Jacob was endearingly awkward, and had a quirky habit of occupying his hands with a deck of cards. He would sit in the band room before, during, and after school-every spare minute he had-with a deck of cards. Jacob had a way of always bringing out the best in people. I could see his will to do good shine through everything he did.
On January 6, I got a phone call from another friend my our lunch table. Jacob had died early that morning from a seizure in his sleep. For hours I was speechless. I couldn’t think of anything to say, only things I should have said. The next week at school felt weird. It was a blur, all in slow motion but it moved so fast. People were quiet, but it was so loud. There was part of me that didn’t know how I really felt about my relationship with Jacob. We weren’t really super close friends, but it didn't matter; his death changed my life.
Now, three years later, there is not a day I go by without acknowledging the "trees" in my life. The more I find myself doing this, the more I find that all along, there’s been a forest in my meadow. In all of these years I’ve never told anyone about how I felt after Jacob died. But I know now that talking things out and writing things down is a huge part of moving on. If Jacob taught me anything, it’s that I should always appreciate everything.