An elderly man lay face up with his arms crossed over his body. He lay on a bed in the bedroom while his grandson watches TV in the next room over. Many of the distant family members have come to see the man in what may be his final days. His grandson has never met some of these people, and if he has met them he hears the all too familiar line, “Last time I saw you, you were this tall” or “You’ve gotten so big and tall.” He is greets them and is respectful but all he really wants is for his grandfather to be back to his normal self. He has never seen him so defeated and tired. In all his memories of his grandfather he is moving and lively even though he walked with a cane, but the young boy has never seen him like this. The doorbell rings and he answers it to see that there are friends from church with food to help the family in this tough time. He takes the food back to the kitchen. He smells the warm cookies that have just been baked, and put them on the counter. His mom tells him he can have one and he tries to push for two but she won’t budge. He takes his cookie back to the TV room, thanking the people from church for bringing all the food. He goes back to watching his show and finishes his cookie in silence away from all these new people he doesn’t really know. His sister asks him if he wants to go play outside for a little bit while the adults catch up on old times. They ride their scooters around for a little bit until they get tired and decide to go back inside. The young boy decided he wanted to go visit his grandpa for a little bit. As soon as he walks into the room he can tell that his grandpa is losing the fight. He has fought well but soon death may very well defeat him. The boy had a sudden realization that he may be losing his closest father figure. The boy had never met his real father and his grandpa was the closest thing he had ever had to his father. He had lived with his grandpa for his entire life and he had always been there for him. In the boys eyes he made up for never having a father. But without his grandpa who would he have? He had no idea.
He stood there thinking about it until the doorbell rang again. Finally a familiar face greets him. It is one of the neighborhood boys asking if he wants to come play football. At this time he would have do anything to get his mind off his grandpa and his battle with death. He agrees and they head to the neighbor’s backyard where his friends’ brother awaited their arrival. As usual they played rock, paper, scissors, to decide who would be all time offense for the game. The one of the neighborhood boys ended up being offense. He sighed with discontent and reluctantly went to receive the first kick. and they played until around five o’clock. It was around this time that the neighborhood boy’s mother called for all of them to come home. Once they got to the house she told the young boy that his mother awaited him on the porch. It was at this moment the boy knew. He knew his life would never be the same.
His sister had been playing with some of her friends and she burst into tears on the way home. Her mother held her and tried to comfort her, while the boy just walked ahead of both of them completely silent. He was never the type to be emotional when someone died. It was bit strange in fact, because he was always so vocal and passionate about things like sports and arguing with his sister. There was no reason that he couldn’t cry. He knew none of his family members would think any less of him. He just didn’t feel any emotions. When he got home, he walked into the bedroom where everyone was congregated around his grandfather. They asked if the boy wanted to say a final goodbye. He walked up to the bed, where his once lively grandfather laid motionless, and said his final goodbye. Still the boy felt as though he should feel different. He felt like he should be mad at something or someone. Now, the boy and his family believed in God. He knew that sometimes people blamed God for taking their loved ones away before they were ready for them to go. But the boy didn’t feel this way at all. The thought of who he should be mad at lingered in his mind as he walked into the TV room and sat down to watch Animal Planet. It was at this moment that he came to the realization that he would never hear his grandpas voice again.
Death had beaten his grandpa. It had beaten a person that the boy had once thought to be invincible. The boy was old enough to know that everybody died in the end. He struggled with the idea that everybody lost to death in the end. The idea that no matter what you did, everybody would eventually lose to death. No matter how hard you tried to be great you would never really win, because you would always lose in the end. But he couldn’t accept it. He couldn’t accept that a person as great as his grandpa could loss the ultimate battle. But he realized that even though he perished from the earth his memory would not. All the unfamiliar faces in the bedroom were people that would keep his grandfather’s memory going. He knew then that his grandfather had not lost. At this moment his mother and uncle walked in and told him something, but he wasn’t listening. He snapped back into reality and looked up at them. They asked what he was feeling. He turned and stared at the Zebras running across the African savannah and never did answer them. He remembered that his family was supposed to go to Africa next year. Now he was never going to be able to see the animals with his grandfather. Now it was getting late and his mother told him it was time for bed. He went to brush his teeth and then went to bed although he didn’t do much sleeping that night.
The next few days were a blur to the boy. A lot of people telling him stories about how great his grandfather was and saying everything was going to be ok. In the blink of an eye, it was time for the funeral. He realized that he had never been to a real funeral. He had only seen the ones on TV where everybody was dabbing their eyes and bawling while a few people said words about the deceased. He didn’t know what to expect. The funeral was going to be held at the church that he had gone to all his life and the pastor had been giving sermons for as long as the boy could remember. When he walked into the church the wooden pews were as full as he had ever seen them. The ceiling so high it seemed to touch the clouds, and shoe imprints all over the red carpet. There could have easily been 300 people there. The pastor said a few words at the start and then the boy’s uncle came up to say a few words. He made it through and said some very moving words that got most of the crowd crying. His uncle had always been very good with words. Pretty soon his uncle decided to read a poem and he barely made it through. He started getting chocked up and finished the poem just in time. As he walked back to his seat in the pew, a silence went over the crowd. A pianist sat down at the piano. He started to play the deceased’s favorite song. Bridge over troubled water by Simeon and Garfunkel. It was one of the most beautiful tunes the young man had ever heard. It was the perfect song for a funeral. He understood why his grandfather loved it so much.
As the funeral came to a close the young man began again to ponder the question of whether his grandfather had lost to death or won. Now some would say that there are never any losers in the end and everybody cares about someone, but the young man knew better than to believe this. He knew that not everybody was a winner. But he also didn’t think that everybody lost. He didn’t think that just because everybody died not everybody lost. Everybody may have life but not everybody lives. That’s the difference between winning and losing. It’s not about who dies and who lives because in the end everybody dies. And it’s also not about who makes the most money and knows the most people. It’s about who lives there life to the fullest. Who changes the most people’s lives and has a little fun themselves. Now the young man thought if his grandfather had done this, and he thought about all the people crying at the funeral. He thought about all the people at his house mourning the loss of a dear friend or family member. He thought about how much his grandfather had changed his life. He knew that his grandfather had succeeded. He knew the difference between winners and losers.
Silently sitting alone. You can’t be with your team. Different genders result to different locker rooms. You feel out casted. No one talks to you, No one listens to you. You are just a shadow, A breeze, A back-round noise. You don’t fit in here, you don’t belong here, you are not one of them. You repeat this over and over in your head as you was out of the locker room, and behind all of the rest of your team, waiting in the tunnel that leads to the ice. You stand and wait amongst them. You lean back against the cement walls, which are painted in white, black, and gold stripes. The team’s colors. You close your eyes and listen past the yelling and foul mouth of your teammates and hear the beast. The machine the clears way for you. It’s gears grind together. It cleans your home so you can be a part of it. Then you hear it slow. You hear the gears come to a stop, and the beast is then gone. You open your eyes to the sound of the metal hitch of the old beaten up and rusted gate close. You move slowly in line along with your team, and you step foot on the ice. The first push on clean ice is a blissful thing. You can hear the crunch of your blade slicing into the soft yet solid ice. You can feel the purity and acceptance of the ice as it travels up your skate and all the way up through your heart and into your mind. And it reminds you why you play.
You play for the team, which gives you a place to play. You play for the parents, who want to see you get better. You play for the coaches, who exist to help you get better. You play for your teammates, who depend on you to play your part. You play for you. You want to be the best player on the ice, but everyone constantly is improving and it’s a race down the ice past the blue line, the red line, back to the blue line, who’s going to impress the coach today. Who’s trying their hardest? Who really doesn’t want to be here? Who cares for their sport? We do.
This is our home. It’s our rink, our game, our puck. You can try to beat us but you can’t win. Because we are a family. Off ice we may not be the best of friends, but you push the grudges aside and play the game. It is a game of respect and grace, patience and diligence, but you must also be fast, and furious. You have to have a flame burning inside of you so hot it could melt the ice you play upon. That flame is what keeps you playing, what keeps you going for countless hours and days and months and years. And keeps the team together. It’s like carrying the ceremonial torch for the Olympics inside of you. One of your teammates breaks down. Their own tears sizzling against their flame till it’s out. They are a burnt out match. But you, you can relight them. You tell them it’s okay, you listen to their problems and you help them. You be there for them when no one else is, and you relight them. A team can break apart if the fire stops burning, it can crumble to the ground as the ashes of the burnt out players fall to the ice. That is why the heart of a hockey player must be stronger than any other part of their body. It doesn’t matter if you have the hardest shot, or you are the fastest skater. It matters that you care. You have to play as a family or you will never win.
You skate with your team out on the ice, out in the somehow engaging warmup circles you do around the ice, saying hi to your teammates. Then you hear the whistle. Back to the blue line as fast as you can. 4 lines. Doesn’t matter who you are with, you are in practice mode now. You hear someone yell “6 and 12.” And you start skating around the circles. You skate forward crossing the sharp and fresh cut blade of your skate, to close for comfort over the laces of your other and again and again. Then you reach the top of the circle. You read yourself and slide your feet, switching their direction to face the way you came from. The sound of that freshly sharpened metal against ice is a very distinct sound. A sound that skaters enjoy. You now take your other foot and cross the sharp blades over the skate that did this before, again and again. And now you make the daring transition from backwards to forwards. Moving as graceful as a swan, but as fast and diligent as a tiger, feet facing out but your body in, knees bent, so you are in a plié for a split second, and then you are forward again. And you do this. 3 times. Then back 3 times. Then again. Again. You do this till the blood is pumping through every inch of your body and you are out of breath and your muscles ache.
Then the whistle is blown again. Back to the center of the ice. You take a knee. The soft fabric of your sock sticking to the brittle ice, like a snowflake to a jacket. This is it. This is the drill you dread every practice. Crosbys. Named after one of the legends of the game. This required you to do the gruesome Plié again, but you hold it, round and round your muscles aching and stretching beyond their reach. You must trust the edges of your skates to support you. The crisp and thinly sliced insides of the blade of your skates, Cut into the ice, leaving a lasting mark on the ice with a sweet crunching sound. Carving yourself into every step, leaving your mark behind you. The drill is one of importance. But you dread it oh so much. But you do it. You stick through it. You do it with every other person who dreads the drill, and you do it as hard as you can. Because this is hockey. You have to try, You have to care. But they both come back to the heart and mind. We are strong. We have courage. We care. We have passion. We are hockey players.
I went down into my basement running to my Xbox One, I quickly turned it on and started Forza 6, then I started matchmaking for a race. Finally I found a race there were 18 players waiting in the lobby waiting to race. Some players were using the fastest car in the game the Bugatti Veyron. I was using the 2017 Ford GT. There was 20 seconds until the race, then we went to the starting line. I started the race in 5th place then someone swiftly drove next to me and I spun out lots of people passed me and I ended up in last place I was struggling to get to first place but I knew there was still hope. I can barely see the other cars in front of me. I eventually pass enough people to be in 2nd place in the race. Most of the windows on my car were broken. The 1st lap passed by very fast, I was still in 2nd place, but there were still people right behind me. I heard the cars behind me roaring through the speakers. I didn’t think I would be able to make it into first place before the race finished. I looked into my mirror and there was someone right behind me. I kept turning when they turned so they couldn’t get in front of me. Then they tried to hit me but instead they spun out furiously and I went into first place. I had 2 more laps to go before I finished. It was a very intense race with 18 people in it. I didn’t know if I could stay in first place but I managed to do that then someone quickly came in front of me and hit my car so I spun out. The race was over and I ended up in 4th place. I knew I wouldn’t be able to win because to top 3 people were using the fastest car in the game. My cars speed didn’t even come close to beating theirs, but at least I leveled up so I could spin the prize wheel, the grand prize was a Locust formula race car its worth 1 million in game credits, and I pressed stop spinning and closed my eyes hoping for the Locust. I could not believe my eyes when I saw what I got. Finally I got the grand prize, I was so happy I could not help but screaming. After the race I continued to try and get enough in-game money to afford a better car. So I continued to get more money to save up for that car. The End
“Hurry up. We can’t be late!” Mom yelled. Her voice sounding exited. When I got in the car, I thought wow, today was the day I had been waiting for, for over a year. I was so excited. In my purple dress cold from the February frost in the air, I was ready. I stepped out of the car grabbed the challah my friend’s mom had made for the luncheon. The parking-lot was empty but I knew it would soon fill with all my family and friends. I ecstatically walked inside the temple with the lady who works at the front desk saying good luck! I looked behind me and the photographers were there. I walked to the sanctuary. I turned the lights on and looked where I would soon read Hebrew. There I stood on the bema where I placed the binder which I would read from.
My family arrived. With smiles on our faces, lights flashed. Before I knew it everyone arrived. I went behind the bema and my mom said good luck as I got ready to start. I walked out nervously as everyone was watching me. I stood high feeling faint and grabbing the paper with my sweaty, shaking hands, I sang the first song with my rabbi. For the first half, it was nerve-racking. I got used to it but it’s not that easy when 150 people are watching you and you can’t mess up. It became easier when I walked around with the torah and people shouted good luck as I walked by. At the end I took a sip of the apple juice was in place of wine and the bread and then it was over.
At the luncheon, we ate and watched a montage. I watched while everyone awed at my baby pictures. Then I sat with my friends as we talked about everything that had happened. Then, people left and I would soon see them at my party. I went home depressed that it was all over but happy I did so well.
One of my friends that had moved from our school and was staying with us had come home with me. We hung out and then I got my hair done in curls for my party. I put my dress on and then we were on our way to Meadowbrook country club.
I arrived an hour early so I could have a photo shoot with my family. When my family got there we took a lot of pictures. Then, I stood by the door waiting eagerly for my friends to arrive. When people started arriving I would point them the way of the party room and then they would receive tickets from a ticket booth.
There were two rooms. In the first one there were tables that looked like popcorn, a big light that read Ellie, a dip and dots stand, and a popcorn stand. We first went in the first room which wasn’t the main party room. We played games, ate popcorn, and I received many presents from my friends and family. Thirty minutes after everyone arrived, we went into the big room which had been covered by curtains. I was shocked! I had been picturing it for so long and now I finally got to see it. It was amazing!
On the right side of the room laid two carnival stands. The first stand had three fishbowls with water in them with plush prizes surrounding it. The stand right next to it, had a wall with balloons on it with some darts laying to the side. On the other side of the room, there were two more stands. One of the stands had a huge block-like stage with pins sitting atop, it was a bowling game! The stand that sat next to it, was a human ring toss! I had taken a picture of myself in a position where people could through rings on my hands and my feet. They printed out a huge copy of it and stood it up so we could make it a ring toss game. Lastly, right in the center of the room stood a huge dance floor with lights and a DJ. I was so happy.
As I walked in the DJ announced for everyone to take a seat on the dance floor. As they sat down I started to walk up to the stage in front of the dance floor. When I got to the stage I read a speech thanking everyone for coming and for whoever helped prepare me for my big day. At the end of my speech I informed everyone to stay until the end because there would be a surprise. After this, my family had prepared another video for everyone. Then we did the Hebrew blessings over the wine and the bread. This would be the last time I would recite Hebrew for everyone. Everyone got off of the dance floor and grabbed there tickets that they received when they walked in to play the carnival games. I went to the first game and tried to throw the ping-pong balls nervously into the fish bowls. I didn’t do so well but I later came back and got all three in! Then I went and threw darts at balloons and hit a few. I went to every game and spent a lot of time at the ring toss. Then I went on the dance floor and danced with my friends. After a lot of dancing we decided to get dip and dots from the other room and take some pictures. I smiled with my arms around my friends, looking at the camera.
Then I went back to my friends and we ate dinner. The kids had their own spate room to eat and as we ate people untied the balloons held down to the table, they would suck the helium in as their voices squeaked. As all the balloons popped and came down I ate a hamburger and then we had desert. For desert, I had cotton candy, and a birthday cake, because of my birthday being on the same day. As everyone sang happy birthday I blew out the candles.
After dinner we all went back to dancing. I played more games, visited with friends, and talked to my family. I was much exited because it was getting to the party where I would revile my surprise that I had announced at the beginning of the party. After about another hour of dancing, giving out prizes, and winning carnival games I was ready. My party planner called me outside of the party and I would now costume change to get ready for my surprise. I went outside and sat on the deck where I would soon fall. I felt the freezing water with my feet as I almost changed my mind from how cold it was. As I got ready my friends and family huddled in a line and came out the door to see the surprise. I smiled as my friends and family yelled “OMG! A DUNK TANK!” As I shivered I couldn’t wait but was also nervous to feel the shock when I would hit the water. The tank was supposed to be inside, but here was a leak so they had to drag it outside.
As my friends watched, the DJ picked names out of a hat that I had written to get called up to dunk me. A few of my friends and one or two family members came up, but they were told to miss. In the end my mom came up and I knew it would be the slam dunk. As she threw the ball I could hear the DJ said hit it! My mom looked at me in contemplation and I shook my head and then said go. She threw the ball and missed. She tried again and hit it. As the people cheered I hit the cold water in shock and shivered from the cold.
I got out and the party was pretty much over. I got a nice warm jacket from my cousin and kept dancing as people left. When everyone left I was sad. I packed all of the presents in the car and said goodnight to the DJ. As I left I was sad but my friends were sleeping over so it wasn’t totally over. As I drove home I was depressed that it was all over and I wished I could have the experience again.
When I got home, two of my friends and I spent an hour opening and viewing presents that I received throughout the day. I thought about the whole thing over and over and then fell asleep after a long day at about 2am.
When I woke up my friends left and I thanked my mom for the best day ever. For the next few days I was depressed that I couldn’t look forward to it anymore, but happy with the outcome. It was truly the best day of my life.
Sweat trickled down the side of my face, making a subtle splash on the steaming hot gravel. I moved my left hand back and forth trying to wipe away the droplets. The sun beamed its strong powerful rays on me with no remorse. Flapping the Schlanker Funeral Home church fan through the air didn’t help much either. Tiny feet and antennae landed on me one by one, while the miniscule, yet pointy proboscis of mosquitoes punctured every inch of my body. Digging my claw like nails, into each bite made me resemble the deep red of a raspberry. Inhaling and exhaling slowly, the rich smell of fresh air colliding with the bland smell of death.
Death is a toxic virus that floated around in the air, and it was something I didn’t want to catch. My vibrant yellow daisy corsage was sticking me in the chest, which reminded me of not only happiness, but my great grandmother Mildred Daisy’s death. Each petal slowly fell to the ground and the smell slowly faded away. All around me looked like a swarm of darkness, taking over the bright blue sky, and the light gray gravel. It was actually just my friends and family, who were filled with sorrow.
I heard the loud clanking of buckles, the floppy church hats swaying though the air, the sound of each shoe hitting the ground and making a sizzle. For once I was separated from everything, I was connected with the world. “Chynadoll, is that you. Look at you, you so tall, and so grown looking”. I smiled, who is this person, I thought to myself. “You don’t remember me, I’m your Aunt Diane, me and your mom were besties when we were younger.” “Oh, yeah. Hi, Aunt Diane, I have to go we’ll catch up later. Love you.” I walked away from Aunt Diane, as fast as my long legs would take me.
Finding my way through the black maze, I bumped into my cousin Sierra. “Sierra, Oh my gosh! I’ve missed you so much.” I said. “I’ve missed you to, how are you.” Sierra replied. “Sad, but I’ll get over it”, I said. “Same, plus they made the funeral the day after Mother’s Day, which makes it even worse.” Sierra said sorrowfully. “Remember that time Granny Daisy sat us on her couch, and started telling us to pursue our dreams no matter what, and that time she gave all of her money to Mr. Jenkins, the homeless guy.” I could tell Sierra would break down any minute, it was just a waiting game. “Oh yeah, do you remember the time she called me a hippo “She was such a wonderful person, so kind, loving and she had a huge heart. I miss her so much.” My eyes started burning, and I felt my eyes filling with water. I knew, if I started crying, I would turn into the next hurricane, and destroy everything in my sight. Sierra looked into my eyes and I could tell she saw the pain, “and the time she called you and I hippo.” A small light chuckle slipped out my lips, which were covered in purple lipstick, to support Alzheimer’s.
Suddenly, music played over the loud speakers, and the crowd of blackness shifted forward. Our talk of good times was interrupted, with death, and sorrow. We trailed behind my uncle, following his strong scent of cigarettes, into the funeral home. One foot in front of the other, slow and steady.
The carpet inside the home was full of footprints, and I studied them each pair at a time. The crystal chandeliers, were elegant and reminded me of the one in my grandmother Daisy’s living room. I walked past my aunts and uncles, who were arguing about who would get what from Daisy, and past my nieces and nephews who sat playing with Barbie’s and trucks, having no clue what was going on. On my way to my seat I saw my grandma Daisy, and it broke my heart. She looked so different. At least she was well dressed, and had on her best gold, and diamonds, with her best wig as usual. She was surrounded by all white, which made her look innocent. It was good to see a more pure color that represented peace, instead of a dark color that represented death.
I took a seat in a rough cement like, rubber chair that forced me to sit up straight. To the right of me was my cousin Sierra, and to the left, a man who was an unknown entity. In the front five or six rows, were all the “important” family members, like Sierra, my mom, all my aunts, uncles, and then there was me. While in the back, were friends, and second or third cousins. There is a major caste system in my family. On top you had Daisy, then Rosemary (my grandma), Joyce, Arlene, and Miranie (my aunts). Under them you had all of their kids, and so on and so on. The lace on my black, floppy church hat, started to agitate me, as it itched the rounded tip of my nose, but I knew today wasn’t about me.
Finally, the music stopped, everything was silent, and my grandmother Reverend Rosemary began the service. “Lord we come to you today in the mighty name of Jesus, asking that you send angels down to bless our precious Daisy on her journey to heaven, we know that today is not just a funeral, yet is a celebration. I know that she was dear to all of our hearts, and the fact that she is gone is heartbreaking.” After Rosemary talked, everyone else got up and spoke on the scenario, and how wonderful a person Daisy was. After everything was done, I got to see Daisy one last time, and that was it.
I remember my first tip-off like it was yesterday. I entered the gym like I was a toddler in a candy store. I was so pumped to go against people that were older than me; but deep down inside, I was so worried I wasn’t going to play to my best ability. I figured playing with kids that are older than me, that they have been playing the sport I love the longer than me. So therefore, it wasn’t exactly going to be a walk in the park. My coach kept talking to me trying to encourage me, all I heard was the basketball bouncing once, and imaging me facing the opposing team, the ball going in the air and me standing ready to jump up like rabbit in the fields of grass. Remind you, I’m the only “young one “on the team so the other girls on the team are so calm and just acting like it’s just another game of the season.
Coach called the team over for the last time before the game started. “ You guys need to play hard. If you say you love this game then show it,” said he yelling in excitement.
“Yes sir,” the team said at the same time.
He was reminding us that we need to play strong and that every loose ball is ours. “ Get on the off to get all loose balls,” he said so serious that he face was so serious.
That’s a term basketball players use to express when the ball is on the ground. When a loose ball comes, we have to get on the ground and go for the ball. But back to the story, by the time the pep talk was done I was sweating bullets. I knew my coach was going to be mad if I didn’t win the tip-off. When I heard the refs blow the whistle, it was show-time!
I walked to the circle that is located in the middle of the court then I felt like I was trapped in that small circle. It felt the circle was choking me. The ref was about to throw the ball in the air so I got ready to jump as high as I could. Next thing I knew, I won the tip-off. My team got the ball and we ran down the court as fast we could. It didn’t even take 30 seconds for us to get 2 points. I was so proud of myself. I won a tip-off against a kid that has been playing basketball longer than me, much taller than me, and a few years older than me.
By the time half-time came around we were down by 3 points with 50.9 seconds left and it was our ball. Coach told us to drive to the basket and try to get an “and-one” or try to get the ball into the post to me so I could just drive it in. It was 30 seconds to go, they get the ball to me and I go in for a lay-up and somebody fouls me. But at this point I just needed the ball to go into the hoop so we would have a better chance of winning. And the ball was just bouncing and hit the rim and backboard until it finally went in. The team and I were so happy and my coach was jumping up and down. Boy, I was so nervous because the game was on my shoulder. If I didn’t make the free throw I would disappoint my team and my coach. If I make it the team and coach were going to be excited and then we could count another win of the season. I got to the free-throw line and my hands are sweating, the ref gave me the ball. I took my time and followed through with my shot and …. SWISHHHH goes the ball through the hoop. My team and I were so glad that we got to count another win to our season. After all that hard in practice that week, it really paid off!