Shaded Emotions - Ethan Friedman

Introduction: In this essay, I chose to focus on my emotions and how I really thing. I didn’t want to sugar coat any of my feelings. My goal was to use the skills we focused on in class to compose two stories that mesh and form a single overall theme. I’m very proud of my openness when writing this essay. I feel like I left everything on the table. Many things I’ve never told anyone other than my parents. Not even my closest friends. I don’t like a lot of the words I used and I believe that I could do better if I wasn’t so focused on my emotions.

I didn’t know that I wasn’t the only one who hid their emotions. I thought I was alone. In 7th grade, hours after the last night of Hanukkah, my Dad called my brother and me into our parent’s room. Usually, we don’t have serious talks. Things come out as they happen, good or bad, but this time they’d been hiding something. My mom had a gloomy look in her eyes. She looked worried. My Dad looked weak. His shoulders were folded in. He always corrected my posture, so something instantly felt off. He started slow and soft, “So.. for about a month now, we’ve been waiting to tell you about something.” I continued to look him in the eyes. I glanced at my brother who didn’t realize what was going on. “Aunt Mindy is very sick… She has a rare type of lung cancer and unfortunately, she discovered it pretty late”. He exhaled quickly. I don’t think I took it in at first. I sort of thought it would all be okay. I just kept staring at his eyes. He could tell that he needed to say more. At the time I didn’t understand that he was choosing his words carefully. “It’s not curable”, he said gingerly. It hit me and hit me hard. I just felt a pull from my liver up to my throat. I squinted like I was looking at a fresh bed of snow with the sun shining on it. It never hit my brother. I left the room within seconds. I stormed up the steps, into my room, and onto my bed. I don’t remember how long I laid there and I don’t recall what I thought about. All I know is that my Dad called me back downstairs some time later. I washed my face off before opening the door to my parent’s room. He had a sort of smirk on his face. I was very confused. He pulled out two boxes stacked on top of each other. They were both wrapped in a Jewish Star filled wrapping paper. I gently unwrapped it as I tried to seem as excited as possible. Eventually, I got all of the paper off of it. They were new iPhones for my brother and me. For months, I had been wishing for a new phone and I couldn’t even feel grateful. My emotions were muffled. I smiled and thanked my parents. I couldn’t be happy. There was nothing to be happy about. It wasn’t feasible for me to take my mind off my Aunt. I went to sleep that night with mixed emotions. I was upset, but there’s always another road. There’s always another opportunity. Life surely will go on even if someone is missing. For the next few months, I didn’t worry. My family told me that my aunt was still living at home and still enduring chemo. I still went to school. We performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. I was happy. I was in the All-Star game for baseball that year. My aunt and grandmother came to watch the game. Bases were loaded, tie game, and I was at third base. Problem is, there were two outs. The third-base coach reminded me that I had to run as soon as the ball was hit, which I knew already. The first pitch was in the dirt…. There went my opportunity. The pitcher fell asleep after the pitch; I could have run home. All eyes were on me. I could feel the glare on my back. Chills raced down through my toes. The pitcher hurled a fastball home. I got a good jump, but the batter whiffed low. As I trotted back to third before the next pitch, I notice the coach looking at me from the bench. He reminded me that it’s my chance. He also happened to be the coach of the Little League World Series team from Philadelphia just a year later. The pitcher whipped his arm around just like the pitch before. This time, the batter slammed on into the top half of the ball just a bit late. The ball is pounded into the dirt with a tall hop in between the pitcher and the third baseman. I dash down the line. I’m not particularly fast, but I could feel myself flying. The world rapidly lagged in my mind. I could hear the ball deflect up off of the third baseman’s glove as he lunged for it. I instantly felt my knee. The same knee that I messed up a few years before. I had been afraid of sliding since, but the third-base coach hollered, “DOWN DOWN DOWN” as I got close. I slid on my hip instead of my hamstring at the last minute. All I remember is getting mobbed by my teammates. I don’t remember scoring. I don’t remember seeing the ball. I guess the third baseman didn’t have a chance. I could see the coach talking to my dad through the dugout fence. He wanted me to join a higher level team. I didn’t care about that. I was glad that my family got to watch me play. Primarily because I played well. I went home unsure of how to feel. She had been sick for 9 months. She was only expected to live for 8. I texted each of my grandparents before I went to sleep. Asking the same question, “How is Aunt Mindy doing?”. They all gave me the same answer. Something similar to, “I don’t want you to worry about her. She’s doing alright. But remember that in the end, no matter what happens, we will all be okay. Including you.”