Mountain Star


"Hope" - Stephen Klancher

I wrote this at the end of my junior year at Stockdale High School.  This is the original version, though I have since adapted it for use in college applications.

There are times in oneís life when, without any logical reason, he is sure of something. Maybe itís only hope and then if things go well the hope is remembered as intuition or a premonition. People have varying degrees of hope for different situations. There are vague hopes, specific hopes, big hopes, small hopes, hopes for gain, and hopes against loss. I had many of these hopes. Some I still cling to, and others have been replaced with new ones.

Some hopes I had were very immediate. I burst out of the classroom into the cool air and brilliant sunshine with a smile just as bright. I had just finished my last final of the first semester and I was ecstatic. I had been hoping that I would do well on each of the long arduous tests, but now all that mattered was that I could stop working. I met up with my friends and my brother while we each talked franticly expressing our last anxieties over our classes. Then as we passed the rows of gleaming black lockers, our conversation slowed down and we started asking and exclaiming each otherís plans for this wonderful carefree weekend. Unfortunately for my brother, his immediate future was already scheduled: he had a doctorís appointment to go to. Still, it was hard for any of us to feel tied down at that moment. Something I didnít know at the time was that my brother had a lot of hope invested in the results of that doctorís appointment.

At times like that it seemed we had all the time in the world, but that short weekend ended with the trapped feeling like there was no time left. My brotherís cancer had come back. He had already been to Hell and back. It had been lucky that he had been able to beat it twice before with a smirk and a strong desire to have everything back to normal. From my perspective, that carefree day so full of sunshine, was like a mocking illusion. So impossible to return to, the memory almost seemed bitter. Everything appeared to darken; most noticeably was my brotherís will, his energy, the very thing that had always characterized him. Imagining him in that harshly sterilized room, so devoid of color as they always are, I thought he would be annoyed. I thought that he would be angry, at nurses, at trivialities, at the pain, and at the boredom. Instead he was merely listless, and I can think of nothing that could have scared me so much at the time. Before, I was so distracted by what I could do for him or bring for him to somehow replace the cold, impersonal environment with his passions and soothe the anger and boredom I expected. There was little he wanted and this left me with little to do. Little to do left me with much time to worry. In the face of this, small hopes were forgotten, even hopes that had consumed me months before were dimmed. All my hope was now that my brother would be okay. My optimism was helped as his listlessness lessened into a sort of calm. Eventually I realized that this no symbol of hope, but bravery in lack of it.

Hope failed. Thereís no elegant way to put that. People tried, but truth is truth, loss is loss, and I miss my brother. What good were the radiant skies, streaked with pinks and yellows, silvers and blues, if all I could see was dirt of his grave? Reminders of him were prisons I couldnít escape. Memories simultaneously inspired and cursed me.

Hope has its utter failures, but for me, if not others, it didnít leave my life entirely. The hopes that had dimmed before have begun to brighten. New hopes have emerged. I may never know my newborn sister as well as I knew my brother, and she will never know him, but I will care for her with love that would make him proud. My brother didnít have a chance to spend much time around someone very important to me, nor did she have an opportunity to get to know him. I will still build a relationship with her that could have been an example to him and been one small thing to be a positive influence on him as he had been to me. I know that my brotherís influence will affect me throughout my life, but despite the terrible loss, his life was not wasted on me.



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