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Teen Voice: A life worth living
October 07, 2016 Faith Reisig   

Read more by Faith Reisig
Mark Twain once said, ďThe fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.Ē Iím not afraid of death, but Iím not ready for it, either. I have things I want to do, places I want to see, questions I want answered. And Iím not ready to stop living.

Early this year my great-grandmother died. ĎGrammyí was one of the most important adults in my life. In her last few months, I visited her almost every day in the hospice ward. Even if she was too tired to pay much attention to what I was saying, she would squeeze my hand and tell me she was proud of me. Through it all, she maintained a sense of humor, an interest in what I was up to, and an ability to keep smiling. Grammy wanted to die. She had been a widow for almost 40 years and was ready to see her husband again. More than once she told me she was just tired of living and ready to go to Heaven. She died the week of Easter, and was buried shortly after that. Watching her graciously accept the end of her life forced me to consider the reality that death is unavoidable.

As a teenager, Iíve been told a million times that I am not immortal. Itís slapped on donít-drink-and-drive posters and reminders not to text while driving the car. Weíre warned that youth doesnít last and told to enjoy our good looks and health while it lasts. Death has become white noise, something we hear about in the news, in movies, books, videogames, and so much more. It gets lost among stories of other disasters; famine, poverty, and such.

One life becomes almost insignificant, while each individual spends most of their time believing that it will never happen to them.

I read the book Tuck Everlasting in sixth grade. I donít remember being super impressed with the book itself, but I found myself thinking about it days and weeks, even years later. It made me so angry; when the main character, Winnie, is offered a chance to live forever she turns it down. I couldnít understand how she could give up that opportunity.

If I could live forever I would. Time is the most valuable thing I have. Iím only three years away from turning twenty. If I live to be eighty, that will be a fourth of my life that Iíve spent. I have a lot of things to do with the time I have left.

I have dreams, hopes, ambitions, maybe even a little bit of arrogance. Iím cocky enough to think I can do the things I dream of.

With all the different opportunities I have right now I could easily spend a dozen lifetimes, trying different careers, working on different things, championing causes. I love being alive. I love having options, and I donít want to narrow those down.

If I had a choice, I would stay this age forever. I love being young. I love having freedom. People say that the junior year of high school is the worst (looking at my homework load Iím not inclined to disagree) however, I enjoy this stage of life. Iím old enough to do most of the things I want to, but I donít have to pick a college or a major yet. I can ignore my future for as long as I can and focus on things I love doing, not the inevitable decisions about school and careers.

But is that living life to the fullest? If I ignore my future, or spend an eternity running away from it as the family in Tuck Everlasting did, I am losing out on some great experiences. Staying young forever would let me avoid the daunting prospect of being an adult, but it also means I would miss out on the experiences I could have had.

I donít have a choice about whether I live or die. I could die tomorrow, or could make it past ninety. I do get to decide how I live, and I donít want to live in fear of the future. I know Iím not ready yet to make the decisions that will determine my future, but I also know I donít want to avoid them. When the time comes to decide what Iím going to do with the next part of my life, Iíll be ready for that. However, my life will go on with or without that decision; I wonít let my future distract me from my present.

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