Monday, 3 October 2011

Writing guide

Seventeen years ago, I came bounding into a world of love and laughter. I was the first child, the first grandchild, the first niece, and the primary focus of my entire extended family. Although they were not married, my parents were young and energetic and had every good intention for their new baby girl. I grew up with opportunities for intellectual and spiritual growth, secure in the knowledge that I was loved, free from fear, and confident that my world was close to perfect. And I was the center of a world that had meaning only in terms of its effect on me-- what I could see from a height of three feet and what I could comprehend with the intellect and emotions of a child. This state of innocence persisted through my early teens, but changed dramatically in the spring of my sophomore year of high school. My beloved father was dying of AIDS.
First Body Paragraph
Topic/Transition Sentence:
From the moment my parents told me, I confronted emotions and issues that many adults have never faced.
Development of ideas related to the topic sentence (Signpost question addressed: values and philosophies)
Death of a parent, and AIDS specifically, forced my view of the world and my sense of responsibility to take a dramatic turn. I had already accepted my father's homosexuality and had watched through the years as he experienced both prejudice and acceptance related to his sexual preference. However, in this case I did not have the benefit of time to understand my father's illness since he decided not to tell me until he had developed full-blown AIDS. My role in the relationship was suddenly reversed.
End Sentence
Where I had once been the only child of my single father, I was now the parent to the debilitated child.
Second Body Paragraph
Topic/Transition Sentence
By the summer of my junior year, I had rearranged the structure of my life; as my father's illness progressed and he became increasingly incapacitated, he depended on me a great deal.
Development of ideas related to the topic sentence (Signpost question addressed: evidence of responsibility)
Each morning before school I took him to the hospital where he received blood transfusions or chemotherapy to treat the lymphoma that was destroying his body. After school, I raced home to complete my homework so that I could later go to his apartment. There I cooked meals, cleaned up, and administered his oral and intravenous medications. Working with IVs became second nature to me. I found myself familiar with the names of drugs like Cytovene, used to treat CMV, Neupogen, to raise one's white blood cell count, and literally countless others. I came home each night after midnight, yet the fatigue I felt hardly touched me; I was no longer seeing through my own eyes, but through my dad's. I felt his pain when he was too sick to get out of bed. And I hurt for him when people stared at his bald head, a result of chemotherapy, or the pencil-thin legs that held up his 6'5" frame. I saw the end he was facing, the gradual debilitation the disease caused, the disappointment he endured when people were cruel and the joy he experienced when others were kind.
End sentence
I saw his fear, and it entered my life.
Third Body Paragraph
Topic/Transition sentence
My father died on July 28, 1995.
Development of ideas related to the topic sentence (Signpost question addressed: accomplishment)
In the last year of his life, I was given the greatest gift I will ever receive: the gift of deep experience. I am now able to recognize the adversity that accompanies any good in life. My father taught me about loyalty, love and strength. But most importantly, he gave me the opportunity to see through his eyes, triggering a compassion in me and a sense of responsibility to those I love and the world around me that I might not have otherwise discovered.
End sentence
Not a day will ever go by when I won't miss my father, but I am so grateful for the blessing of his life.
Widen the lens beyond the topic at hand and tie up the essay
With this compassion and experience comes an even greater responsibility. Luke 12:48 tell us "To whom much is given, of him will much be required." As I move forward in my life, it is my hope that I can begin to see other people from two vantage points: theirs and mine. By doing this, I will begin to understand that with my every position or emotion there may be someone else standing at an equally valid, yet possibly opposite point. And that life, for them, has a different hue.

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