Monday, April 21, 2014
When we asked graduating high school seniors to send us their college admissions essays, we didn’t know what to expect.
But we received dozens of them, and we were impressed by the quality of the writing and the diversity of topics. (One thing that stood out: Nearly all of the submissions came from women.)
Narrowing down the selections to a few proved difficult, but we managed to choose our favorites, which we’re publishing here today.
AUTHOR MOLLY MACK of Portland graduated from Catherine McAuley High School. She will attend Saint Joseph's College of Maine.
There I was slouched at my desk eagerly awaiting the sound that would mark the end of the day. Preoccupied, with my head resting in my hands, I was half listening to my teacher’s lecture on the Hinduism belief of reincarnation. When I heard my teacher presume, “I’m sure none of you have ever witnessed the death of a human being,” I suddenly perked up and listened intently. An engaged student in the class quickly retorted, “that would be awful; I can’t even imagine!” It was at that exact moment that I realized I had experienced something special in my life. Though I did not say anything to my peer at the time, I wanted to assure her that it is not awful; in fact to witness another’s end of life is eye-opening and illuminating.
Witnessing the death of my grandfather, but more so assisting and comforting him at his bedside, I learned many things about myself I may have never acquired without this experience. I recall gently swabbing the interior of my grampa’s parched mouth and carefully dampening his dry lips with a wet sponge. It amazed me that seemingly simple gestures could comfort him for a while and secure a look of contentment upon his face. As a mere thirteen-year-old, I glued myself by my grampa’s side, held his feeble hand, whispered in his ear and stroked his white hair. I needed to feel assured that Grampa felt as comfortable as possible and experienced as little pain as possible; but most importantly, I wanted him to feel the love of his family surrounding him.
It was not until later when I realized these goals are the same goals all dedicated hospice nurses desire for their patients. Looking back, I further realized caregiving came naturally to me. I was calm, compassionate, and selfless while assisting my ailing grandfather. At the time, my only focus consisted of what I could do next to provide him more support. My friends, my basketball game, my homework suddenly became unimportant. This heartbreaking yet significant occurrence provided me with new knowledge about myself and the woman I will one day become. I decided against confronting my classmate because I did not want to put a spotlight on her or my experience in front of an audience. I feared this would make my memories less special to others and my story might be misinterpreted as a means to gain myself attention. Instead, I lovingly reflected on the memorable times with my grandfather. To know that we all mature at different rates and in different ways, the experience of witnessing a death too early happens to be mine.
When the bell finally rang announcing the end of class, I refrained from getting up because I felt the next phase of my life was just beginning. This experience had stamped a new meaning onto my life.
(Continued on page 2)