Summer of 2001 was a simpler time. It was a time when sitting on the ground and rolling a ball entertained me for hours. I was in Scranton, Virginia rolling a ball back and forth with my Grandma (my Dad’s mom).

I still remember her telling me “Deena, life is going to fun, hard, and amazing. Always try your best to do what you think is right and remember that sometimes that is just the way the cookie crumbles.” Being six at the time, I did not fully understand what my grandma meant. Now, ten years later, I think I finally understand. In November of 2010, my dad was diagnosed with Characinoid Cancer.

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Characinoid Cancer is a slower growing cancer and when it is detected the cancer has usually spread throughout the body. Treatment is generally unsuccessful. My dad’s case was no exception. Of course, when I first heard my Dad had cancer I had no worries. I knew he could beat it. He was my Dad and he could do anything, even defeat cancer.

But, I was wrong. The weeks went on and the doctors tried many treatments. They tried chemotherapy, pills, and many other treatments I do not understand. But, nothing worked. My Dad was able to spend the holidays at home.

My last Christmas with him is a cherished memory. But then, his health took a turn for the worst and he was hospitalized at John Hopkins. Two weeks later he returned home but after four days he had to be hospitalized again. He went to the hospital for about a week and then he was moved to a hospice. On February 23, 2011 my Dad passed away.

After his death, I did not know what to think. I wanted to know why he was the one to develop this cancer and not a mass murder rooting in prison. I wanted to blame someone and I blamed my Dad for awhile. I was angry at him for breaking his promise, for losing the most important fight. His death was hard and sadly, on May 21, 2011 my Grandmother (my Dad’s mom) passed away as well. I am still left wondering.

I want to know why bad things happen to good people and why life is not fair. But, I guess those are the million dollar questions. I do not know what life will bring me but, now, I think I finally understand what my Grandma meant by “that is the way the cookie crumbles.” It is a simple rule, but, in the end, sometimes that is the only explanation. I am a control freak and perfection is something I strive for.

I strive for perfection with my grades, with my Tae Kwon Do, with my dance, with my actions, and my relationship with my friends. I want to learn as much as I can and I want my grades to reflect my knowledge. I want to be the best martial artist and teacher I can possibly be. I want to dance with as much grace and strength possible. I want to handle every sticky situation with style and class. I want to protect the ones I love and keep them close.

I am determined. I do whatever it takes to accomplish my goals. I am also a person who needs to know how, what, when, and most importantly why things happen. I am curious and I look for answers, even if the answers are not the most pleasant. But, this past year has tested everything I am and I have come to realize, and except, that sometimes it is no one’s fault that something happened. Sometimes there is really nothing you can do.

I could have never realized that without my Dad and my Grandma. The lesson they taught me cannot learn in a textbook. It is a hard lesson to learn and many people do not accept it as the truth. I do. Because of my Dad and my Grandmother, I am able to move on and accept that even if I try my best sometimes “that is just the way the cookie crumbles” and move on; Life is waiting for me.