"This I Believe" Contest - 2010 Winners
Astoria High School
"Understanding One Another"
I believe in understanding one another. During the past four years of my high school career, I
have gradually realized that even the minutest differences tear people apart. After observing my
own classmates for twelve years, I noticed they were terrible to anyone who was different. I even
catch myself picking out oddities upon first meeting someone.
In August of 2009, I was reminded of the difference one person makes in another’s life, no
matter how different the two are. My best friend went in for surgery to remove some tumors
wrapped around her organs, but she died in the operating room. Her aorta disintegrated after the
surgeon removed the tumor holding it together.
Libby was never normal. She was born with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder in which nerve
tissue grows tumors. In her case, the tumors were dangerous. They grew around her major
organs. It was discovered after her passing that they were cancerous and could have strangled her
to death if she had survived the surgery. As Libby got older, her body became malformed due to
the tumors pushing on various parts of her body, but that’s not how I choose to remember her. I
remember her as the fun-loving, energetic girl who always made me smile. Despite her
condition, she wanted to live her life to the fullest.
I admire Libby now, but it was not always that way. When we were little, I thought she was the
most annoying, spoiled brat I had ever met. I never understood why she was that way or why her
parents gave her everything they could. It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that we
became good friends. Looking back, I don’t think any of my classmates truly realized what she
had been through. I never thought about what she truly felt, and I didn’t try to understand. It was
only after her passing that I realized what her life was like. Her father explained to me that she
would come home from school and throw a party in her room by herself. Her peers were not as
kind to her as she would have liked, and they made fun of her body and goofy personality. The
cheerleaders would complain about her joining the squad, constantly talking about how she
didn’t deserve to be on the squad. They didn’t know she was in constant pain, that she pushed
herself to experience everything she could. Although I didn't talk badly of Libby, I feel that there
was a lesson to be learned from her life. I believe in not judging a person before you get to know
them. They could turn out to be the best friend you’ll ever have, and by not giving people a
chance, you could have lost a true friend.