Dear Saba: Stop Stressing


Saba Nia

Dear “Stressed Out” Saba,

Today is the one-year anniversary of my grandfather’s death. I had my first history test of the year, so naturally, my focus was directed toward this perceived “life-or-death” matter, and the sudden sadness and guilt hit me in a two-punch succession to my gut.

Sadness because I nearly forgot, and guilt because even a year later, I can barely reconcile the fact that I never did enough with him, id not tell him I loved him enough, and never got to say goodbye. Four years ago, you have just received your worst history grade. Ever. The number glowed from your computer screen, and you quickly reloaded the Hub page to make sure you had seen it correctly.
Time is a funny thing. I can tell you exactly how many minutes it takes to drive to school (28 minutes, given normal traffic), and I can describe with painful accuracy the crawl of seconds that characterize my double periods, but the passing of these 365 days seems incomparable to anything I have experienced before. I guess that’s what happens when you’re too caught up in life to start living it.

Two years ago, you were freaking out about your math exam. Just absolutely freaking out. Who in their right mind gave you the false impression that you are good at this subject? You put away your Math Analysis Honors notes as you took your seat with the other members of your tenth-grade class, tapping your pencil in nervous anticipation.
There is so much that goes unnoticed. So much that I should spend my time on – so many I should spend more time with – but don’t because I get too caught up in school or grades or extracurriculars.

This summer I spent several hours a week playing card games with my aunts and cousins. Without the presence of my phone, the kiss of the sun’s rays and the intoxicating scents of our cooking dinner were the only indications of the passing of time. I walked around barefoot and left my hair unbound. I read and swam and ate and laughed and all because I wanted to. I was not stressed. I was a truer, freer me.

One year ago, your parents called you to get ready to visit your grandparents. Exclaiming in frustration that you need to finish “The Scarlet Letter” and that you’ll visit your grandparents next Sunday, you returned to your work. Four days later, your mom received the call that your grandfather had suffered a heart attack and slipped into a coma. He stayed barely over a week in the hospital before your grandmother made the decision to allow the doctors to let his heart stop beating.

Age is not an indication of maturity, and it definitely doesn’t correlate to someone’s wisdom. But I like to think that I have grown to appreciate the impermanance of life and enjoy it that much more candidly.

There was so much that I never got to tell my grandfather. So much that was never discussed – not because of the language barrier or age gap or cultural differences – but because there are some things in life that simply cannot be conveyed through words. So perhaps this article is pointless – just the ramblings of a teen going through an existential crisis.

Perhaps some readers will throw this paper away (hopefully in the recycling bin) before they even get to this article.

Perhaps this page will smear and fade, and one day crumble away.

But perhaps that doesn’t matter.

All that matters is that you taught me to appreciate life.

A Saba who Stresses the More Important Things