Writing a personal essay may be easy for some of you. This topic, in particular, is very hit or miss. It would be simple for someone to, say, write about the relative they have that served in the military. Or perhaps a tale of their move across the country would do. An easy opportunity even exists for me. My paternal great-grandparents and their children were refugees of Hungary’s 1956 revolution, one of many of such events for the oft-ruled Hungarian people.

Of course, that’s what I thought before I checked the official wording of the assignment. Much to my chagrin, the personal essay had to be entirely personal. That is, about the writer. It’s my work. I am the writer. It is me. My silver bullet had been repossessed by the state and smelted into a limited-edition coin, to be purchased by an oblivious grandmother who swears it’ll be worth the mint it came from some day. She gives her grandson the coin, and he pretends to admire it. He knows better than to reveal his knowledge gained from the multitude of gold coins, silver coins, and fifty-state quarter collections. They will be worth no more than what she paid, if a little less. She just wanted to help. But that doesn’t matter. Those people aren’t real. What does matter is that I have nothing to write about.

Eventually, I will need to address the book I read most recently. This book is called The Yellow Birds. It is by Kevin Powers. It takes place during the Iraq War. In it, there is a character called Murph, who dies. The protagonist and a search party find his body mutilated in a bush. The protagonist, Pvt. Bartle, had promised to Murph’s mother that Murph would return. There are many things I could say to connect my life to the story at this point. I could talk about how I have broken numerous promises. Who hasn’t? However, none of my promises have resulted in anyone’s death. I could write about helping people. At least, I could write about that if I were writing a bad college admissions essay. I’m not writing a bad college admissions essay. I’m not even writing a good college admissions essay.

I could also write about my dog. Before I was born, my parents had acquired a Rottweiler named Jake. Jake was a pretty good dog. After I was born, he was very protective of me. Despite being one of the more fearsome dog breeds, he was very gentle. This was in my hometown of Concord, New Hampshire, so he had plenty of land to run around on and other, similar things that dogs like. Next to my old house, there was a frog pond. I used to really enjoy catching frogs and putting them in a five-gallon bucket filled with the water for the day. I realize now that this was not the most ethical way to have fun with frogs. We also had a sinkhole in our front yard. I used to be really scared to walk near it, for fear I would fall in. Before we packed up and headed home, I ended up falling in twice, once with my friend. Both times I fell in, I feared what may have lived beneath. Both times, there was nothing. I got out of the sinkhole, took a shower, and changed. That was it.

Now, we return to my dog. Jake lived to be about twelve, which is a reasonable for a dog. One night, around the time we moved, I was watching TV while Jake relaxed by the fireplace (his favorite thing to do in the evening) when he started howling. He did this periodically, but this was a different sort of howling from the usual. He seemed to be in distress. He fought at the forest-green carpeting with what looked like supreme fear in his eyes. The howling grew and became yelping, barking, and shouting. He flailed around with so little control that we feared he would jump into the crackling fire. His sounds became more pained. That’s when my parents told me to go upstairs as fast as I could. Being little and confused as to what was going on, I ran into my parents’ bedroom. Eventually, I fell asleep there. Jake had been having a seizure and passed away that night. I was sad for a little while. My mom was much more sad. She had trained him. Now, I don’t think of him unless someone tells me to think of something pertaining to death.

There was also a death in my family over the course of my lifetime. I don’t consider pets a part of the family, and I think it’s bizarre that some people do. You are not any more related to your pet than you are to any other animal of that species. Loving your pets is kind of weird to me too, but that’s a personal thing. Don’t call them your family. It doesn’t make sense. My family is very small, so a death is kind of an event. To provide some perspective, I am one of two people under eighteen to attend our family gatherings. The other person is about a year old. Anyway, my great-grandfather and noted singer Don Rondeau, stage name Don Rondo, died. He had cancer. We weren’t surprised.

These are all times the world has changed for me. How did I react? I guess the best way to state that is that I didn’t. I kept going. Maybe that has stunted my emotional growth. Maybe not.