When I was 7 years old, my mother died. I didn’t cry at her funeral. I cried at my next soccer game when I realized my mom was the only mother not cheering at the sidelines. My father died when I was 9 years old. I cried once during his funeral…and then every day for a couple of months after that. At first, I was thought of as a pity case. Everyone around me had this unspoken, predetermined destiny for me — my parents died when I was still a child; therefore I was bound to be depressed forever.
It is 10 years later, and now at 19 years old, I finally have the balls to say something that I have been thinking for a while:
I am lucky that my parents died.
And I am not crazy for believing that.
Follow my logic here, because there is some. Poet John Berryman once said in an interview, “My idea is this: the artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him. At that point he is business.”
I’m not saying that it doesn’t completely suck that my parents died. Nor am I belittling the pain of anyone who has gone through losing any parent, or anyone close to him or her, for that matter. Growing up, society says that you are bound to become just like your parents. But who do you become when you no longer have your parents to grow up with? I had one of two ways to go: I could either fall flat on my face or take my movie-plotline tragedy and use it to my advantage. I was not about to become part of my story, my story was going to fit into my life the way I wanted it to.
As a writer, I, like millions of others, want my voice to be heard. As I grew older, sharing my story with others provided me with this undisputed sense of credibility when I spoke. This happened because I never walked around sulking — unless I told you that my parents died, you’d never know I suffered such a great loss. I knew what it felt like to experience such an overwhelming feeling of pain before the age of 10. My lows were pretty low, but that made my highs even greater. Once you can feel such raw emotion, you are able to understand things in a way you never did before. I could tell my story a million times, but until your parents die, you are never going to completely get it.
So, I became more observant of my surroundings and receptive to the people in them. I watched for my friend’s interactions with their parents. I picked up on notions that my peers didn’t catch. It became easier to get people to open up to me once I shared my baggage — everyone can empathize a least a little with a good sob story.
Over time, the artist in me became clever. I learned when to save my story and when to share it. I learned how to tap into my emotions when writing something dramatic, and when to ease up when I wanted to write something comedic. People don’t want to be fed bullshit — they want real stories, with real characters, and raw emotions.
So, as someone who considers herself an artist, a writer, I realized that I am lucky that my parents died for the sake of my craft. If I got the emotion-provoking story everyone’s lookin’ for, why not use it myself?