The best teacher is experience


I’ve never really known much loss. I lost my grandfather when I was thirteen, but Alzheimer’s took his memory before we could get to know each other better. To be quite honest, losing my cat who followed me around for ten years was probably the most painful loss I’ve experienced, so I guess I’m lucky in that sense. But I’ve always wondered what it would be like, to lose someone close to me. Would my heart, which I often say is too soft for this world, be able to take it?

It was one of those really good days, where nothing exceptional happened, but I had this feeling of contentment following me around. Those kind of days can be rare, so I decided to enjoy it by reading a book in bed under the comfort of my covers. As I was falling deeper into the pages, I got a call from my mother. She was crying. So much so that I could feel her tears wet my face as I pressed the phone closer to my face, trying to hear what she was saying in between cries. It was like playing a game of scrabble, reaching for letters to assemble a coherent word. And then I did: Bri, gun.

How much time had I spent with her the last time I saw her? Did I ask enough questions about her life, listen to the changing tones of her laugh, hugged her tight when we said our goodbyes? I couldn’t remember.

That night, while walking her dog, my sister was robbed at gunpoint by two guys outside of her condo. That night I lay awake, watching the encounter projected on the back of my eyelids, robotically listing off all the scenarios that could have happened.

The next day I finally got in contact with her, and she told me about the ambush; how there were no pictures of her life quickly flashing, just fear and the preparation for the cut of a bullet. The skin on my knees started to crack and burn as she recounted them pushing her to the ground, the cold digging into my forehead as she told me of them pressing a gun to her head.

My body couldn’t decide which emotion to settle on: sadness, anger, gratefulness. They all hurt, and eventually I decided not to feel at all, because that was easiest.

I don’t think people realize how much their actions impact people. The people who robbed my sister, their decision that night completely upturned her world, and now my whole family is feeling the repercussions. But like any experience, no matter how bad, there were good things that came out of it. It helped me to see the natural good in people again, especially those that I tend to fear.

After the incident, the police officers who helped my sister went out of their way to make her feel comfortable and safe. After handling everything that night, they called to check in on her to see how she was dealing, and even escorted her back to her house so she could get her things.

Sometimes it’s hard to look at a police officer and not hold your breath, to not think of Trayvon Martin or Sandra Bland and shrink in hesitation. And I realized, I had been viewing all policemen in the same way that caused those certain officers to shoot too early: they’re all the same. One bad seed makes them all bad seeds; the same generalizations that kill people each day.

But the world is not so black and white. And every once in awhile, when you catch yourself falling into that thought process, you realize even when there’s evil, there’s also good.