Posted in 2015-2016, Lifestyle

I Should Have Kissed You Longer

By Sara Ritchey

We were seven when you sang “Happy Birthday” to me all by yourself, holding a purple balloon in your left hand and my pinky in your right. The sky turned foggy, so we released the balloon and you accidentally let go of my finger. You apologized after I slipped my hand back into my pocket. You didn’t mean to break your promise, and I knew that I could trust you.

We were nine when you asked me if I wanted to go to the park with you and your family. I tried to impress you by doing the monkey bars all by myself, but I landed on my stomach, but your mother and father didn’t seem to notice. You rubbed my back gently and I realized that even after I caught my breath, I couldn’t help but lose it again when I looked at you.

We were twelve when you started skipping class. I left notes in your locker during study hall. They were filled with poetry and things that made you smile, because you said you liked how I could turn my thoughts into words. I always told you how much I loved to see you smile — I’d do anything to make it show. You grabbed my wrist softly and told me to stop worrying. You told me that you were okay. I tried not to worry, but when I hugged you, you smelled like smoke and too much cologne. It was hard not to worry when I saw you hiding away your pack of cigarettes when we came in from lunch.

We were thirteen when you kissed me in the back of your parents’ car the night it broke down. Your parents were in the gas station, and I watched your eyes from the seat next to me and they seemed to lighten, from a dark sky to a subtle ocean. You put your hand on my thigh and told me you loved me. We were sitting at that damn gas station for over two hours, but I couldn’t seem to bring myself to say it back. I wanted to. I swear, I wanted to.

We were fourteen when I had to visit you pale-faced and breathless. I never got to tell you how proud of you I was, or how I regretted not hugging you longer; not loving you longer. I didn’t know that kissing you goodnight translated to a final goodbye. I didn’t know that touching your chest meant feeling your heartbeat pitter-patter for the last time. I didn’t know that when I failed to say I love you, I would never get the chance to say it again. I should have loved you a little longer.

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Sara Ritchey is a Freshman at Barbara Ingram 

Posted in 2015-2016, Lifestyle

Man’s Best Friend

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By Derek Frazier

 I remember the day I first met Scrappy. I was three when we went to get him. He was found online by my mother, who had fallen in love with him instantly. His previous owner had other dogs who were much larger, and they couldn’t raise all of them at the same time. We parked on their driveway and exchanged hellos to the owner. I don’t remember how the man looked (I was too young to remember faces), but I remember his whistle. It was sharp and clear, and rang loudly in my ears.

Scrappy, as he would later be called, came charging down the hill.

He was small and thin, with creamy tan fur on his body with black fur running down his back. A dirty face with a pushed in snout was complemented by fudge brown eyes and a painting pink tongue. Before I knew it, he was sitting in the front passenger seat in my mom’s lap, trying to eat her fries. Scrappy or “Scrap” was now officially a member of the family; his full name: Scrappy Doo Frazier.

I have never met anyone else who name their dogs full names. They are a member of your family, and therefore they deserve a full name. Out of all the dogs I have met in my lifetime Scrappy has the most human of personalities. What he likes and dislikes reminds me of humans.

He enjoys:

  • watching CSI
  • and the early morning news.
  • Listening to heavy metal or rock.
  • Licking peanut butter off whatever he can find.
  • Late night head rubs.

I remember sitting in my tv room one afternoon, just surfing through channels. Scrappy waddled into the room, his freshly clipped claws tapping on the hardwood floor. He sat down at my side and growled when he saw me watching a British comedy. He continued to huff and snort until I changed the channel to football, I guess the Steelers are his favorite team.

I love Scrappy — he’s my best friend and my “furry brother.” He’s been there for me through thick and thin. When I was sad he was always there to hear me vent. When it’s the last day of school he’s there to celebrate alongside me.

I only have sisters so it’s nice to know I have someone who can be a brother figure to me. Granted he’ll never be able to play video games or chess (he is all fingers and claws), but his presence is enough for me.

 

Life isn’t beautiful because you can keep it forever,

life is beautiful because it ends.

    

As I was growing up I never thought about a life without my dog. Innocently, I dreamed we would be friends for eternity. I was in the first grade when that all changed. We were living with my grandparents at the time on their property in Mount Airy. Scrap and I went walking on the back of the property, I didn’t see what was coming next.

It has rained badly the day before, so badly that giant mushrooms had started to grow on the edge of the property. Large as tea cup plates and dark as pitch, clashing with the jade green of the long grass around us. I don’t know why he ate them — to this day I can’t believe he did — those mushrooms were poisonous to dogs. Scrap ate a few massive chunks out of the mushroom before he made himself sick. I remember running my fingers through his course fur, the fur that needed brushing. He was shivering under my fingers with a fever that threatened to consume him, despite being tucked into my mother’s quilt. I remember the face he gave me, it was apologetic and sorrowful. His eyes were the real problem, deep brown with flecks of gold from the nearby lamp. They were full of fear and agony and I was scared for him as well. He was my best friend and I didn’t want him to die, we had gone through so much together for him to just slip away.

Scrappy spent the next day at the vet and we got a call that said he was fine but he was going to spend the night at the clinic. The day he came home was one of the happiest of my life, he was back. He was so full of energy and enthusiasm, it was almost as if he had never poisoned himself. He sat by my side like always, and read books over my elbow. He smiled at my jokes and barked his laughter. Nothing comes close to that kind of bond.

Years have passed and each winter has taken its toll on my old friend. He’s fourteen, grey fur has mixed into the cream color of his neck and shoulders. His eyesight is fading and he has arthritis in two of his paws that makes him  limp noticeably; it gets worse when it’s cold. After two mushroom poisonings, hundreds of door run-ins, and a very humorous confrontation with the neighbor’s husky, Scrappy remains one of the toughest friends I’ve ever had.

 

Out of all the dogs I have met in my lifetime Scrappy has the most human of personalities.

 

But even the strong fade. My mother doesn’t like to talk about it but there is a rumor that this winter will be his last. The last winter was almost too much for him and his limp is becoming ever more noticeable. I don’t like seeing Scrappy in pain, but I don’t want to watch him go. He is my best friend and my brother — family aren’t the people who you leave behind.

I understand that it’s almost his time, but I’m still afraid of letting him go. Despite my fear I’ve learned a lesson. I’ve learned that life isn’t beautiful because you can keep it forever, life is beautiful because it ends. When it does, it’s over and they’ll never come back to this world, but in your heart they still live on. All that is left for us to do is be brave and carry on with life, warmed by the memories of friends and family who we were blessed to know. I’ll miss Scrappy, I’m not denying that. I’ll miss the piles of dog hair in the tv room and his impatient scratches on the back door. But he’s been in my life so long that he deserves his rest. He has put up with me for as long as I can remember, and I’ll hate to see him go. But he is in his late eighties; If he was a human, he would have earned retirement by now. So until the time he finally must go, I will save his spot during SVU and remember just how beautiful life can be.

 

Derek Frasier is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram. 

Posted in 2015-2016, Lifestyle

I’m Only Human

By Derek Frazier

With October being Annual Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to credit this piece to my Grandmother, in honor of her bravery and courage while facing cancer.

“It’s ok to be angry,” my mother said. All my life I have tried to keep my emotions in check — I have a temper that I’m not proud of and it tends to be destructive when I loose control. I become agitated, and I yell, and I feel a strong desire to break things. I have had a pretty strong grip on my emotions but that control slipped through my fingers when my mother told me the news. My grandmother was battling breast cancer. “She didn’t want to tell you guys because she wanted you to focus on the last few weeks of your schoolwork,” my mother continued.

I’ve always been close with my grandmother. Closer now than ever before. This was because of her and my grandfather’s decision to move to Hagerstown with us almost a decade ago. Nana is the one who picks me up when school is over, and we have strong heart to heart conversations on the ride home. We talk about the weather, and politicians, and media when we aren’t trying to outplay each other in the “punch buggy” game. I couldn’t believe that my Nana was sick. I had grown so accustomed to her presence. Her laughter. Her wisdom. Her sarcasm. I couldn’t imagine a life without her.

My sister Evee was riding shotgun when Mom told us the news, I was in the back seat. It was easier for me to hide the tears that slowly  trickled down my face. Though trying to keep my breathing steady was difficult. Mom could hear the uneven rasps as I tried to breathe just as she could see my sister’s tears.

” I know you guys are sad,” my mother said, “it’s ok to be sad. It’s also ok to be worried for her and it’s ok to be angry.”

It’s ok to be angry?  I remember thinking. To me nothing about this was ok. I was angry at her cancer, and angry that we were having this conversation in a car. I wanted to scream. I have never felt so overwhelmed.

I had too many questions. How advanced was the cancer? When was she getting treatment? Will she be ok? Was the cancer terminal?

The worst part: I couldn’t do anything! Due to my height and personality my family nicknamed me “the Gentle Giant” and I was raised to always be positive, to help others. But it’s frustrating when this is something I can’t do anything about. I can’t combat it with cheesy one liners or humor. I can’t make the cancer cells go away with a hug or a warm smile. No matter how hard I try. The feeling of uselessness was unbearable. I don’t like being angry but that’s all that I seem to be right now.

I’m not mad at my Nana, with all that she’s been through, I don’t think I ever could be. I’m angry at cancer. I’m angry that it’s put her through hell. I’m angry that it decided now is the time to act up, when my family needs stability.

I’m so proud of my Grandmother. Nana has overcome so many challenges following her diagnosis. Hurdles and problems that I could never face and defeat in my wildest dreams. Her strength and resilience is the only reason I haven’t broken into pieces yet. Both her courage  and my mother saying it’s ok to feel anger. I’m allowed to be mad and enraged because sometimes that’s the only way we can comprehend and handle things like this. It’s what makes us human.

I made a vow when my mother told us about the cancer — I promised myself that I would be strong for my grandmother. I swore to stand by her with confidence and determination as she has healed and fought these past few months. I would never let her see my anger, only my smiles. I hope one day that she reads this piece. And I want her to know that I will stand by her even after her last dose of chemotherapy, she has been my role model and an endless source of inspiration.

Derek Frazier is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts