Karen’s High School Essay

Several months after Karen’s death, her father discovered this essay written by Karen when she was sixteen and junior at Roseville High School. It speaks to love of life and an understanding of death.

American Experience 5 & 6     Submitted on November 7, 1992


“To learn what everyman must learn…

enough of the meaning of life to be ready to die.” -Margaret Craven

Death is a subject that most people don’t like to think about. All too often we spend our lives running from the thought of death and never really living. I too don’t like to think about or discuss death, but hopefully I am not so afraid of dying that I never really begin to live.

Death is as inevitable for each one of us, as the sun setting at the end of the day and rising on the next. I do not know what happens when we die, no one really does. I do know that we all must die. Every living thing must die, and return to the earth from which it was born. Nature exists in a harmonious cycle, that no matter how hard we try, we cannot break. We, as humans, spend much of our time and money trying to thwart death. Imagine what this world would be like, if we spent that energy on living and improving life for ourselves and others.

I cannot picture death as a cruel, dark ending to life; instead I prefer to picture it as the natural, peaceful, completion of life. I have a hard time believing in a burning hell, or even in a complex heaven with angels and pearly gates. Instead I envision something simpler, more peaceful. I could not describe to anyone what my heaven looked like, or even assure anyone that there was life after death. Instead of trying to explain my vision of death to them, I would try to convince them to live their life for the here and now.

I do believe that when we die, we leave a piece of ourselves in the people our lives have touched. Through our actions we are sewing our own legacy; a legacy that will live on long after we are gone. No one can take away the memories and love that a person has left behind.

I do not know what death is, but someday I too will die. Hopefully, I will leave behind a better world for my passing. I hope that when I die, I will be able to look back on a life that was fulfilling and was spent living, not waiting to die. I hope that when the time comes for me to die, I will have learned “enough of the meaning of life to be ready to die.”