Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat

Posted by Allysa D. | Posted on December 6, 2011

Sunny Boy

I almost snapped a couple of nights ago. I had just found out about the death of a beloved teacher and friend from my school back at home. She had been battling ALS for three years or so and it deeply saddened me to see her life fade away. She was a beautiful person and made a lifelong impact on me. Even more so, she helped shape who I am today. I had also received a discouraging grade from one of my classes that night. And then the next morning, I found out that a very close family friend, Christine, who I’ve known my entire life – she babysat me, taught me how to swim, and helped plan my sweet sixteen – her cancer returned and the outlook is not too good. I have never felt so frustrated, discouraged, sad, angry, disappointed, all in one. It really saddened me to see so much suffering and pain in such a short period of time, from that day in August up until now. It also disappointed me that I just simply could not do the best I wanted to do in school. It made me angry to see many go on with their lives, successful and carefree. There’s not a day that goes by without mulling over questions like how did I get dealt such a card like this? Why did I have to lose my sweet Sunny Boy of sixteen years and then lose my mom only three days later? Why do painful things happen to people that least deserve it – like Christine and Mary? Why did my best friend die in a plane crash at such a young age? Why was I born deaf into a hearing family? I will never understand any of those things. They’ve caused me anger, frustration, sadness, and pain – but most of all, confusion.

Hayley and I at my high school graduation

But out of this, I try to see the positive and the happiness that there actually is in my life right now. There’s my dad, who is truly my rock. More like my boulder. There’s Hayley, who’s literally almost like my sister. We were born at the same hospital, we grew up together, and we are still best friends to this day. She was there with me on that night of death, holding me, and always picking me right up if I fell. Every day, she makes sure that I’m okay and just simply listens. And there’s my wonderful boyfriend who’s my best friend too. I realized how much he meant to me when he flew out from California to my mom’s funeral, just when he got home two days before. All I can remember on the day of the funeral was holding his hand so tight. I was petrified and confused. But he, Hayley, and other family members’ presence made it okay. I remember just looking at my brother as we watched her coffin slowly lower into the ground – I remember looking him straight in the eyes, full of tears, and I knew we would be okay somehow.

And then there’s Hopkins. Hopkins isn’t all rainbows, ice cream, and unicorns. There have been days where I’ve gotten so fed up with this school and said, “That’s it! I’m transferring!” (but not really). But there have been days where I thank quietly to some being above. I am lucky to go here, I know that – being a student here at Johns Hopkins University is a privilege. I am lucky that we live on such a beautiful campus with a vibrant academic atmosphere. It’s almost a blessing. Yesterday, I had a holiday party with SAAB (the group that runs this website) and I was so discouraged and sad that day because of the news that I had just received. But they cheered me up, just simply by their presence. I saw the beautiful diversity of our group, with each person having different traits and qualities. But they all had such kindness and love. And yesterday, I had this long conversation with one of my friends and I realized that others go through difficult things too; I’m not the only one. He’s a RA, and they really do know how to talk to you – Hopkins is lucky to have him. This guy really cared and I knew we were on the same level.

SAAB holiday party with JHU_Nick, JHU_Ruthie, and JHU_Marina

JHU_Lucie and JHU_Erica making cookies and being silly!

But I think most of all, I’m lucky to be here today because of a few people. They worked so, so hard and because of their work, I’m here. To not finish my education here and quit would just simply let them down. I want to graduate from here, looking back at all the pain with pride. I want to walk down that Homewood Field and look at my dad and tell him, “We did it.” I guess what I am saying is this – I’m here at Hopkins for all those special people who have left us – Ronnie Williams, Mary Ramsey, Vickie McCarthy, Elena Yates, Lynn Reinalda, all four of my grandparents, and especially my mom. They were all very special people to me.

My brother and I at my high school graduation

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elizabeth Kubler Ross

17 Responses to “ Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat ”

  1. Ian H. says:

    Incredible and touching. I’m speechless, thank you for sharing this.

  2. Pieta Shukwit says:

    Dear Alyssa,
    You are always in our hearts; you continue to be an inspiration to us as your courageously meet the challenges and losses in your life. May you feel God hugging you in a special way this Christmas. Ms. Shukwit

  3. Ruthie C. says:

    Allysa, this literally gave me chills as I was reading it. I’m so glad the SAAB holiday party made part of your day a little better. Please know that there are more people than you probably know who look up to you and your strength, myself included.

  4. Beth Amir says:

    What a remarkable reflection on a year full of difficulty, yet hope. You are a true inspiration. Please keep writing.
    Love, Mademoiselle Wood/Madame Amir

  5. Elena Nickerson says:

    Hi Alyssa,

    Thank you for sharing your insights about loss, courage,love, perseverance and most of all hope. I know that Mary was so proud of you, as are all of your “old” teachers. Thank you for reminding us to take the time to appreciate those around us especially when we are faced with personal challenges and difficult situations. I wish you and your family a blessed Christmas and best of luck to you on your finals. I am confident you will be successful. Love, Mrs. N

  6. JHU_Brian says:

    Allysa, what a touching and beautiful post. I wish you the best of luck with finals and hope you have a restful break. See you around soon.

  7. Ann says:

    Alyssa, this is another one of Mary’s sisters. Thank you for your love and care of her; she really was so very proud of all you accomplished, as well as grateful for your friendship. We can all learn from those who struggle and persevere–like you and Mary. Your words are powerful and sustaining. With gratitude for your gifts to Mary and so many,

  8. Chris Ramsey says:

    This is one of Mary’s sisters, who knew about you all the way back when you were her Kindergarten student. Even then, you completely inspired her. Through all of her suffering, she completely inspired us. Thank you for sharing this tribute. Thank you for being so brave in the face of so much. With admiration and gratitude,

  9. Kat says:

    allysa, you are such an incredibly inspiring person. i have been so blessed to know you for so many years, and i know that leni and your mom and mrs. ramsey are all so proud of you every day. keep up the phenomenal work, love you!

  10. Chantel says:

    You simply AMAZE me …you have your entire life..from the beginning …had an innate strength and determination.

  11. Erica Z. says:

    Allysa, you are truly a beautiful person inside and out and I am so grateful to know you. You are special and your strength through these hardships is inspiring to everyone. Stay strong.

  12. Wang Z. says:

    That is really a Nice story!

  13. David says:

    Girl, you have persevered thru a sea of pain. Mary Ramsey knew what horse to put her money on.

  14. David says:

    god bless you girl, you’ve known more than your share of pain

  15. Kevin says:

    You continue to inspire me everyday, Lissy. <3

  16. Danielle says:

    Thank you for writing this.
    I really needed it.

  17. Kate T. says:

    Allysa, this is a beautiful post. You are such a strong person. I am so grateful to be at Hopkins and meet amazing people like you.