This student is excited about getting together with her dad for Christmas. She feels lucky to have him and recalls the moment when she learned he was shot. When her mother told her what had happened, she felt that she might die from the pain of thinking that she could lose her father. In the hospital, she was afraid her dad might be unrecognizable and, when she finally saw him, he was in a terrible state. She began to cry and yell at him to wake up.
This student’s experience gives the ubiquity of gun violence in Ms. Gruwell’s students’ lives a highly personal quality, as she describes in detail the various emotions that she went through when she learned about her dad being shot. This gives a deeply human dimension to the social problem of insecurity and violence, showing how it affects entire families.
Her father had to endure a long, complicated recovery and, to this day, he still has trouble speaking, as well as seizures and memory loss. This experience allows this student to empathize with anyone who has lost a parent, because she knows the fear of losing a family member. She is aware, though, that while her father and she remain scarred by this experience, she is extremely lucky that he is alive and present in her life.
This student uses her own experience to be more sensitive to other people’s ordeals. Instead of focusing on her father’s problems, she emphasizes her gratitude for his presence in her life, demonstrating her optimistic outlook on life and her capacity to make the best of what she has.