Many families take vacations across the county and around the world, to places new, exotic or simply relaxing. People travel for many reasons, but I believe mine is the best. My mother and I travel to celebrate her victory against cancer.
One place in particular that we visited was the glorious city of New York. It was September of my freshman year at Big Bear High School. My mom had her last chemotherapy treatment earlier in the year, and her last radiation shortly after that. She came out of her battle with cancer determined to live life to the fullest, and teach me how to do just that. We set out for New York on a red-eye flight with five other ladies that had been there for our family.
When we arrived, it was shortly after eight o’clock in the morning. We took a shuttle from the airport to our hotel in the middle of Times Square. Steam was rising out of the vents in the street, and already the street was bustling with traffic. We went to a huge ticket booth in the center of the square and bought tickets to see the play “Phantom of the Opera” that night. When we were seated in one of the numerous theaters of New York, one of the ladies with us saw in the program that she knew the man who was playing the Phantom from high school. We sent a note backstage and after the show, we were escorted into his dressing room. I sat in wide-eyed wonder as he began taking his make-up off, and talked to me as if I was an old friend. I was excited mainly because I have been involved in theater my whole life and I got to talk to a real Broadway actor! It was an amazing experience.
That night, as we walked out of the theater, the lights and noise of Times Square overwhelmed us. There are billboards seven and eight stories high! The lights from the advertisements lit up the entire street as if it were daytime. There were colors and designs that you could never even imagine! A Cup-of-Noodles billboard steamed out of the top, the ESPN newsreel spouted out the latest scores, and of course, the ticker for the NYSE was full of numbers and symbols moving at lightning speed. It was all too much to handle.
As we stood gawking in the middle of the square, I took a picture of my mom gazing at all the commotion. Her jaw was on the floor with a hint of a smile. Her eyes had the look of a kid in a candy store. An expression of pure joy was spread across her entire face. In short, it was the best picture ever taken of her. It was at that moment that I realized what life is all about. We are living for those small moments that take our breath away. From that day on, I vowed to look for those little moments, capture them in my heart and cherish them in my memory. That trip meant more to me than seeing the grandeur of a big city; it meant learning what I wanted my life to be all about.
Amanda Fisch of Sugarloaf, California won Honorable Mention for this essay.
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