Making My Day

Making My Day

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Create Your Best Future

Making My Day

Hope is patience with the lamp lit.

~Tertullian

If life was a journey, then I, at age thirteen, had given up. On the outside, I was perfect. Talented, athletic, and prim, I was the girl who teachers counted on and parents asked their daughters to invite over. I befriended new students and cleaned my friends’ rooms after sleepovers. I never said a word of gossip and had won countless “student of the month” awards.

Yet I was haunted by demons. I held a secret from the world, a secret I rarely let out. I was smart and calculating, and I never showed chinks in my armor. But my flawless demeanor is what eventually did me in.

Depression is difficult to describe to someone who isn’t familiar with it. It shows itself in many ways: anger, emotional detachment, fatigue, loss of interest. Or it may simply be a crushing, unexplainable sense of failure. Simply put, it’s not finding inner strength to live.

That’s where I found myself at age thirteen. Hopeless. I was seeing a therapist after my mother had finally gotten tired of the fake smiles and black moods, but even with Kim’s sensible advice and years of experience, something was deeply missing. I simply could not go on.

One dreary day in January, I leaned heavily against my school locker as the lunch bell rang. I had received a homework assignment from Kim the day before: to write a list of my best friends and why I liked them. My problem with this task was that I couldn’t think of people for my list. I had companions, but at that point in my life I couldn’t bring myself to care much about anyone, including myself.

I slammed my locker and faced the throng of seventh graders on their way to lunch. I ran through them in my head, wondering who I could possibly include on my list. So many different faces passed, but none that I would die without. I sighed. It was official: I was going to flunk therapy.

“Hey,” said a small voice to my right. I looked down and saw Luz, a girl in my grade. Luz was short and soft-spoken with something good to say about everybody. Her big eyes held a sweet soul that made her quite well liked. I had always had a fondness for Luz, but had never known her very well. Even so, looking at her accepting smile lifted my spirits a bit.

“Hey, Luz,” I greeted. “How are you?”

“Great. Say, you got a haircut!”

I fingered my short hair, genuinely pleased that she had taken notice of me.

“Yeah,” I murmured.

“You look really, really pretty,” Luz exclaimed. “You’re gorgeous!”

I blinked twice.

“Really?”

“Totally.”

“Luz!” a voice called from down the hall.

“Got to go,” Luz said. “Bye!”

She trotted down the hall.

“Gorgeous,” I whispered to myself. “I’m gorgeous.”

Watching Luz scamper down the school hallway, I had a bit of a revelation. I wasn’t happy. In fact, I was clinically depressed. Each day was going to be a struggle, and ultimately I might lose. But seeing a person who was so good to the core shook me a bit. It reminded me, however briefly, of the happiness in the world. It gave me hope.

“Luz!” I yelled.

You see, happiness, at least for me, is slow to come and quick to leave. Life is a journey, but the pursuit of that precious thing we call happiness is more than a journey. It’s a challenge that some, like Luz, seem to have already conquered. Like her name, Luz, which means light, she lit up the darkness for me.

As I opened my mouth, I took that light that Luz had unknowingly offered.

“Luz!” I called again.

My new friend turned. There was so much I wanted to say. Thank you. You’re prettier than I could ever be, inside and out. God bless you.

What I said instead came straight from the heart.

“Luz, wait up. I’m coming with you.”

~Monica Quijano

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