Do you remember when you were a kid and you would go shell hunting? Well I don’t know about you, but I remember that all I wanted to find was a perfect sand dollar. Long story short, I never found that perfect sand dollar, only mismatched halves and quarters.
As I look back on that memory, I realize that what I wanted from that perfect sand dollar is a symbol of a perfect life. However, there is no such thing as a perfect life which is why I only found broken pieces of a shell because life is full of cracks. Nothing about life is easy, and my life hasn’t really have been that hard as others. No matter where you come from though, life can be difficult and stressful, and if you fool yourself into a life that seems perfect it’s because the cracks are not what you want to see.
In the fall of 2019, one of my mom’s best friends cancer came back. The first time she was diagnosed we all knew she could beat it, but as my mom told me the news I knew it was different this time. Her cancer had spread to her bones and her liver, but with chemotherapy we thought that her prognosis would hold true. Then a month later she began to go into liver failure, and the prognosis became shorter. Everyday I prayed harder and longer than the day before, trying to hold myself together making myself look perfect on the outside despite the hopelessness I felt, but despite all my prayers and my attempt to bargain with God she died two days before Thanksgiving and that is when my almost perfect shell broke into pieces.
After she passed I threw myself into babysitting and work, trying to forget about my grief. My grades began to slip because I could not bring myself to study as I moved from one job to the next. I would cry and scream in the car by myself, struggling to keep the appearance that I was fine on the outside. I felt like I was drowning, gasping for air, but I could not bring myself to reconcile my grief, to move on like she would have wanted me to.
Then in March 2020, the coronavirus began to take the United States by storm, and I was stuck at home with no where to go, making it impossible to ignore the grief. So, I had to try and put myself back together. I started focusing on myself both physically and emotionally as I began to piece my broken shell back together. I started meditating and praying, and began to find that I was not as broken down as I thought, that she was still with me even though she was no longer on this Earth. I saw a life where I could move on and still make her proud, that all the things she taught me and the memory of her would still live on.
Today, I do not see myself as broken, but not perfect either. I am no longer a mix of shattered shell particles, but a recognizable one. The shell is only shattered if you let it, but it is ok to let a crack or two through, it is ok to not be perfect because all that matters is that you lead the life you want to.