My Loss of Innocence

by Kelly Sisco
Essay written for class on Composition and Literature

at Westchester Community College

Copyright 2004 Kelly Sisco

With a fast connnection (e.g. cable modem, DSL, T1, etc.), the video clip in the above right box will start playing in a few seconds. To hear Kelly, turn off (or turn down) the volume of the song "I Will Remember You" by clicking pause in the controls at the top of the page. The video was taken while Kelly read her essay on 1/16/2005 at the Nyack Public Library, to other poets and writers, in memory of her uncle Robert.

The week of January 19th was the beginning of my first semester here at Westchester Community College and also the hardest week of my life.  I was looking forward to starting a new college that Tuesday, calmly and happily until I found out the horrible news of my uncle's death.  He was my dad's younger brother and was only 51 years old when he passed.  He had been sick for the past two months but it all happened way too fast.  My uncle, Robert Sisco, had found out he had HIV 14 years ago but that never stopped him from living life.  He had many friends and traveled many places.  He was also hard-of-hearing and it was a struggle but he learned to talk and understand people very well with the help from my loving grandparents.  That was the week when I lost my innocence because I never lost anyone so close and important to me, except my great-grandma but she was 95 years old.  This whole event taught me to appreciate life since we can all die at the least expected of times. 

When days get difficult I tell myself that I wish I was not alive because things would be a lot easier.  But this week I found out that is not true since everyone around me who loves and cares for me would be devastated and not able to go on with their own lives.  The last thing I want to do is harden the lives of my loved ones.  I know my uncle is watching over me and I can pray and talk to him whenever I wish but that is not good enough.  I want him here on Earth so we can talk face to face.  My dad told me a good way to deal with what happened is to figure since my uncle was such a good person God took him early to help in Heaven and bring peace to the rest who are still living.  God needs help too believe it or not, and God picked my uncle, Robert, to be one of his great helpers.  Life is not always fair but I feel that everything has its own reason for happening the way it does.  While sitting around my grandma's dining room table, I told my family that no one else was allowed to get sick, except for a little cold.  I know I cannot prevent people from getting ill but that sure was a nice thought. 

The greatest lesson I could have learned is "He who dies with the most toys is, nonetheless, still dead." (anonymous) I have collected and saved so many different things from clothes and jewelry, to glass vases, to CDs and movies and to magazine ads.  I have realized now how unimportant these things are if we cannot keep them forever.  My uncle too loved collecting stuff, especially coins.  Now that he is dead he has no use for all this stuff.  My family could give his stuff away to some friends or keep some of it for themselves, but several items will just lay around collecting dust.  People work their lives away so they can afford fancy gadgets but we are all going to die at some point and that stuff will have no real value.  This brings me to another quote or Italian proverb, "Once the game is over, the king and pawn go back in the same box." In the game of life, it does not really matter if you were poor or extremely rich because if you were a good person you are going to end up in the same place which is Heaven.  The most high on the charts or the very low both are put to rest in the same place because basically we are all one race and that race is human. 

Life is a gift that we all should cherish.  Robert Sisco will live on in the hearts of his many friends and family and we will never forget his wonderful accomplishments.  The life I lead will be more precious knowing I will be able to hold Robert's hand, not physically but spiritually and emotionally.  My mom has said that I have been simply wonderful during all of this and she feels it has helped me to grow up and become stronger in how I am dealing with it.  No more tears I will cry but happy thoughts I will think of the many times we shared.  Growing up is a tough and sometimes scary process.  However, after knowing that I was able to deal with my uncle's death, I feel that I am now ready and able to face and take on the many other challenges that life has to offer. 

Friday of that same week was the mass where I sang a song called "I Believe." This is one of my favorite songs that I have been practicing for many years.  When I performed the song this time, it was more special than it could ever have been.  On the night before his mass, one of Robert's good friends, Pax McCarthy, stayed over our house.  While sitting at our dining room table, Pax listened to me practice the song "I Believe" a few times.  He is hard-of-hearing but can hear a song's beat and could still tell if I sang it well.  He stopped my singing to show me a few of the signs for the important words but he ended up showing me all the sign language to the whole song.  We worked together on it for about a half hour until I felt comfortable.  Pax encouraged me to sign the song while singing it the next day at church.  I was a little hesitant but wanted to try because I knew it would make Robert extremely delighted.  Robert always wanted to teach me sign language but all I ever learned well was half the alphabet. 

When it came time to sing my song in church, I gave it my all and sang what I had learned to the best of my ability.  All of Robert's deaf friends were proud of me for an excellent job well done.  The most proud was my grandma because when I sat back down she was crying and told me that I had made Robert truly happy and he would have loved it.  At first I just wanted to learn the sign language to " I Believe" so I could show everyone what I had learned and say "look at me," but that would have been conceited and selfish.  Instead I realized that I learned it for Robert because he always wanted to teach me sign language but I never gave him the time.  That day he not only was watching me from up in Heaven but it felt like he was watching me from the pews and when everyone clapped I pictured my uncle clapping too.