Understanding

Understanding

From Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Understanding

I discovered I always have choices and sometimes it’s only a choice of attitude.

Judith M. Knowlton

My friend Jervais was fading away. He was a boy in my science class who had had a brain tumor removed. No one else really paid much attention to him, or seemed to care, but I always wondered what he felt like and what he’d been through.

I was going through a stage of deep depression. I was having a lot of family problems and feelings of very low self-esteem. I just hated myself—I have no idea why. I would joke about death to my friends, and a few times I would even talk about trying to kill myself. All I wanted to do was to go somewhere where I would feel no pain and no sadness.

One day I noticed that Jervais hadn’t been coming to school lately. About two days later, my adviser, Mrs. Baar, announced that Jervais had developed another brain tumor. I was so shocked that I started to cry. I felt as though I had a connection with Jervais. I spent the rest of the day thinking about how devastating it would be to know that at any hour, minute or even second you were going to die. His life was being ripped away from him, and he didn’t have a choice. I did. I had been thinking about taking my own life away.

One of my other friends told me that Jervais loved lizards. I remembered that my brother had recently taught me how to make toy lizards out of big plastic beads. Right then, I decided to make Jervais one for luck and hope. When I walked through my bedroom door that afternoon, I went right for my beads. I picked out the colors—yellow, green and clear. I took my time to make it special.

The next day at school, I made Jervais a card on the computer and wrote a little poem that told him he would always have a place in my heart. After the card was printed, I signed my name and gave it to my teacher. She was going to see him at the hospital the next day.

The next week I was walking to lunch, and as I passed the computer lab, I saw a lot of people sitting down inside. Being the nosy person that I am, I took a closer look. It was almost all of my teachers, Jervais and a woman I had never seen before. Then one of the teachers invited me to go in, and told me that the other woman was Jervais’s mom and she was asking about me. I started to cry, and then the teacher hugged me and said I didn’t have to go in if I didn’t want to. But I did want to—so I wiped my tears and walked into the room. I was introduced to Jervais’s mom. I looked at her and was amazed! She wasn’t crying or showing any sorrow at all. I admired her for being so strong.

I said, “Hi, I’m Jessica.” She smiled at me and told me that she had hung the lizard on the hospital bed so that Jervais was always able to reach it. I looked over at Jervais. He didn’t look like himself. He had a bandage over his eyes. Our teacher was kneeling down, talking to him, and I didn’t want to interrupt so I left for lunch. I never saw Jervais again.

That night I finally realized that I would have made a big mistake by killing myself. I felt so guilty. I thought of all the people I would have hurt if I had—all the people who care about me, whom I had overlooked. At that moment, I promised myself that I wouldn’t ever even think about doing something harmful to myself again.

As the rest of the school year passed, I became more clear about my life, and I have been much happier. I think of Jervais less often, but I never will forget what he did for me and my whole life. My life was just beginning, while his life was ending. He gave me the gift of understanding myself, and that is truly a gift from God.

Jessica Stroup, age 14

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