We Are America

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Photo ofVivian Fu

I remember the day: March 27, 2018; it was a bright sunny afternoon. It was also the day my world fell apart. During my time, which hasn’t been long, I hadn’t experienced what the death of a loved one was like. A couple of years before I was born, my family got two dogs. Neither were fans of children such as myself so it was easy to say we didn’t get along. Around the time I was 9, an accident occurred and one of our dogs, a Pomeranian named Joey, tragically passed away. I say tragically, but really, at 9 years old, I couldn’t understand the meaning of death, and as Joey and I weren’t close, I felt no significance toward it. 

While my family dogs weren’t for children, my lack of restraint as a child probably traumatized them. My form of entertainment was waving around a giant wand in the animals’ faces, which probably seemed threatening to them. Suffice it to say that my dogs’ and I couldn't develop a bond. By 2018, Tyson, an American Eskimo, as well as our only remaining dog, was 14 years old. Old and fragile, but still just as aggressive toward me. He then started to lose weight; a lot of weight. Soon he stopped eating and we found out it was due to liver failure. Not long after, we came to the decision to put him to rest. I remember I was in 7th grade and working on an English project with my group. We were planning dates to do things and I can still remember myself saying “I can’t do the 27th because I have to watch my dog get euthanized.” Simple and to the point, without a single thought or feeling in mind. We weren’t close and never had a good relationship so why should I care about a dog’s death. 

To this day I still regret not trying hard enough to make Tyson happy. The day of the event was calm: we picked up his slowly dying body and went outside to see the sun for the last time. Soon the vet came and we all sat on the floor of our kitchen. We watched the light from his eyes darken as she placed the needle into the tube of his wrist. At that moment, I began to sob, unable to place why. Suddenly the world before me was crumbling and I couldn’t see a thing. I realized then that what I was feeling was regret and sorrow. I was sad that Tyson died, I regretted the time lost with him, but it was already too late. At 9 I was clueless of Joey’s death and thought nothing of it. At 13 I realized how valuable relationships are and how quickly they can end. The meaning of death is something so much more than I could have ever imagined and though I’m not happy about Tyson’s death, at least now I know that the bonds you make are everything, no matter how thin they may seem.

© Vivian Fu. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.