Amy, a youth from our program in West Virginia, took first place in the Berkeley Young Writer's Competition with the essay she wrote about coping with the traumatic loss of her brother. Here is her essay:
"One minute he was standing in front of me and within seconds he was gone forever. I know its real, I attended the funeral and watched as they laid the flowers on his casket. As tears rolled down my face, I didn't want to say that last goodbye. After a month of him being gone, it still feels like he's with me everywhere I go. Even when I go to school, I hear people talking about their famlies and how happy they are , but I feel like ours will never be the same without my brother. I always wondered what it was like in heaven and if he's enjoying his time up with the other family and friends we have lost. It turns out that I didn't have to wait much longer to find out. When I got home from school today, I unlocked my bedroom door and walked in. I sat my stuff down and then went to sit on my bed. As I sat down I noticed there was a letter sitting on my pillow. I opened it and inside it contained a piece of paper that said someone had requested a visit with me in heaven. For a second it felt like my heart stopped. I knew this couldn't be real but maybe it was. The letter read, "Dear Raelynn, your brother has requested a visit with you on this day at seven o' clock. I couldn't believe that this was actually happening. I was finally going to get to see my own brother. I hurried downstairs to see what time it was. The clock read six forty-five. I hurried and got ready.
When I finished getting ready, it was two minutes until seven. I sat on my bed took a very deep breath and waited patiently. All of a sudden my dresser split into two and it was elevator doors. Walking over to the elevator I stepped in and pushed the only button there was. The button was shining bright green and it had a cloud on it. As soon as I hit the button the door shut and I felt a little jolt then the doors opened and I was standing on a cloud. I felt a light tap on my shoulder and as I turned around I saw his big bright smile as he hugged me and held me for a couple minutes. We both started to cry and then he showed me around heaven. "How have you been?" he asked. "Well I'm doing a lot better now that I know I can come visit you." I added. We continued to chat and then he introduced me to my grandpa , grandma , and brother I had never met before. "I really had fun time today, but I have to go now." I stated. My eyes started to get heavy and filled with tears as he hugged me very tight and I returned to the elevator, which took me back home again. I still couldn't believe it was actually real. My dresser returned to normal and I then realized I was holding another envelope, which told me when my next visit was. Knowing that I would now get to see him once a month made it a lot easier to deal with him not being here. Although its still hard, at least I know he's okay."