Carina is a 16 year-old high school student in Grade 11. She is interested in dancing and acting and in her free time enjoys writing stories, or drawing.
Sometimes in life a teenager will face situations like getting their hair tangled, or breaking up with a boyfriend, or even losing the match during last night’s playoffs. But never should a teen face the realities of losing a friend. Friday April 3rd, my dear friend Aimee died of epilepsy. But she wasn’t just my dear friend, she was our school’s dear friend, our dance studio’s dear friend, and she was her parent’s best friend. She was one of those girls that loved everyone and was loved by everyone.
For all the teens out there, I want to let you know there are times in our lives where things are going to happen that we will never quite understand. Nonetheless you have to stick through them. When Aimee passed away, it tore each one of us apart, and boy, was it hard. I had found out the day after, at our dance competition. All the dancers at our studio sort of joined together as a team, and though it was hard to hear the announcer tell the judges one dancer missing and see an empty space in each formation, we kept strong. We didn’t change the routine, nor take away the empty space because we knew that she is still dancing with us.
The weird thing about these situations is how it never quite hits you once you first hear about it. It takes awhile to settle in, and that’s okay. And for most of us, especially the dancers, it took going back to school, going back to reality and everyday life that just blew us away. I remember walking into the front foyer of our school seeing a table with a purple cover and picture of her and fresh flowers. Around were cards all spread on the table that read, “I remember Aimee…”, where you could fill in your thoughts and then put it in a basket to give to her parents. Everyone tried to stay strong but eventually broke into tears again. When times are rough it’s hard to see everyone live on their lives but finally, reality had stopped for us. Tests were pushed, due dates were changed, and our Dance Springfest, that was in 2 days, was postponed for the next week. Our grade.11 class knew it was a given that we’d choreograph a dance for her. Just 3 classes later, every dancer in the Department was involved, and for our Springfest we all danced for Aimee.
What surprised me most is the reaction our students gave. It became a purple filled week, of mourning but also of celebration since Aimee’s parents wanted us to celebrate the wonderful 16 years she gave. We wore purple shirts and purple ribbons, and donated to Epilepsy Foundation by buying bracelets. I still see people wearing them in memory of Aimee and her struggle. We also wore orange ribbons to resemble Aimee and her bright smile. We had reached 5,000 dollars for donation in one week to give to the Foundation, while sadly, when Aimee was selling those bracelets two weeks before, she had only made 50 dollars – but was darn happy she did. The amount of love everyone showed changed our views and for a time it wasn’t a sorrowful reunion. The school came together and instead of just being sad, we acted upon it. Our dance studio even has our own good-luck salute to Aimee for when we are about to go on stage. The pages completely turned and her locker filled with memoirs and pictures and stuffed teddy bears has become the most popular in the school. Aimee Wilkinson-Harris is an angel guiding us. She touched everyone and now we are all aware.
Learning to Cope: Here are some steps on learning how to deal with a loss
- Understanding the Loss It may take a few seconds for you to understand, or it could take a few days. For most it takes going back to regular life and feeling like there’s something missing. Whatever time it takes, take it.
- Reality Check Get out that diary. Only after you learn what has happened, then can you come to the realization. This should be a time for reflection – an internal time for just you and yourself to truly understand.
- Mourning Go ahead and let it out! You need to let your emotions out through crying and writing about it and most importantly talking about it. Get a dear friend for a shoulder to cry on and to talk to, because you need to get everything out before you can move on.
- Settling In Settling in, is the after math. After you have had those extra days off of school, and the time to realize, there has to be a point at which you move on. This could be the hardest time, because deep down you don’t want to. It has taken quite the time for us at my school and studio to move on. But remember moving on, doesn’t mean forgetting. It could be a turning point that moves you, or continuing what this person has started.
Like I had said before, what had surprised me the most was the feedback from everyone, and the amount of love we all shared after the mourning. And that was what drove us to celebrating Aimee’s wonderful years and becoming widely aware of Epilepsy.
So remember there is always hope for the future. Nobody should have to live through this, but in reality, it may just happen. Remember to keep strong and hope for the best.
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” Charles A. Beard