**For more information on the prompt that inspired this piece please visit here**
It’s difficult to imagine my own ending now, or even anytime soon, when I feel that it has just barely begun. When I think upon the past 21 years of my brief presence on Earth, I am initially struck by its seeming emptiness. Not until I sit and contemplate that I realize—I have lived a full life so far.
I could fill this page with memories full of laughter, anxiety, frustration, tears, desperation and, of course, love. I believe that the more I write, the less of a letter this will become. It will be a documentation of you, put to somewhat concrete terms… or however concrete ink spelling out letters on a paper would be.
I must start, I suppose, with a thank you. I have learned that thankfulness is not merely an attitude, but a perspective that, when properly exercised, sharpens and focuses in on the beauty of life that may otherwise remain unnoticed. Life, abstract yet completely logical entity that you are, I thank you. I believe my understanding of you did not quite solidify until coming to college, yet nonetheless you have been teaching me about yourself from day one. Life does not pause for a second, and it seems that its steps quicken during the precious moments… yet perhaps it does so that we may scoop up the beautiful richness. And we learn to treasure these memories all the more when they sustain us during seasons of drought and barrenness.
But I can no longer speak in abstract terms. I must be specific. Life, I turn to the people who have been mine until now. My family, you are more precious to me than I can ever express in words. Understandably, this is where my pen slides to a halt. But no, here they come. When I think of you, I think of the long nights you stayed up with me as I struggled to complete schoolwork, the time that you taught me how to curl my hair and make me feel beautiful, the steadiness of your voice and the security that I felt whenever you were near. I recall my explosive temper and unyielding stubbornness in my refusal to give up my empty pride, and your patience and kindness that flooded upon me in return.
I will never forget how you stayed with me all week in the hospital while I was recovering, sleeping on the cramped couch beside my bed and bathing me when I couldn’t do it myself. Your words of immense wisdom and understanding have inspired, challenged and spurred me on, and I can only hope that someday God will grow my own to some semblance of yours. Thank you for meeting all my questions with patient thoughtfulness. Thank you for protecting me from danger, while still enlightening me to and equipping me for the realities of this fallen world. You have taught me through example what it looks like to live a life of honor, love and steadfast dedication. Without you, I would never have understood the redemptive power of Jesus’s love. Never have I fought so hard against and for the sake of someone else—and never have I seen more beauty, grace, and thoughtfulness in anyone than you.
I am at the end of my journey here at UCLA. I’ve said it so many times that it’s become almost automatic: I’m ready to move on. I’ve been so eager to sever myself from the life I’ve built here—because I’ve outgrown it. Yet maybe I feel that way because I have not stopped to ponder it, as I am now. I have changed. I am no longer who I was four years ago. I have experienced so much during my years here—much pain, much suffering, rejection, loss, disappointment, failure… yet I do not regret any of it. It has been a beautiful journey. I have been equally met with an overwhelming abundance of triumphs, joys, excitement, success, friendships…. But the best is yet to come. I look ahead, full of hope and yes, fear—but that fear will not hold me back from experiencing the rest of you, life.
From the ever-living,