Difficult Experiences Article 1


Sara Lao

Difficult Experiences

By Sara Lao



These 15 months have been rough with all that has been going on in the US. We are in the middle of a pandemic, climate change, inequality, protests, and much more. It is hard to say nothing is hard for all of us. So, I asked some teachers and students to send stories of their difficult experiences in life.


Southern California Wildfires and Earthquake 


“My family was affected by both the fires and the earthquake in California [during the 1970-71 school year]. My sister’s house nearly burned down in October of 1970 in a big wildfire, and her husband and his neighbors refused to evacuate with her and the kids. They stayed home and used garden hoses to wet their roofs and landscaping. They saved their homes, and I can remember my brother-in-law driving my younger sister and me to his house a day or so later, and we drove through this burned landscape where some trees were still smoldering and everything else was just black. It was haunting.


My brother in law was killed at work at the end of that month, and my older sister always wondered whether that might not have happened if he’d been unable to go to work that day…like if their house had actually burned down and he’d had to stay home that day and fill out insurance paperwork or something, and then he wouldn’t have been in the right place at the right time to have been injured.


Then in February, we had that big earthquake, which was the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced. That was a trauma that stayed with me for years even though I wasn’t hurt and my house didn’t suffer any real damage. That was not one of my better school years! Way too many traumatic experiences that year!” – Ms.Garrison




“Something challenging that I’ve experienced relates to multiple injuries experienced over the last few years. In 2017, I tore my rotator cuff (small muscles in the shoulder). In 2018, I tore my Achilles tendon (lower leg). In 2019, I tore my labrum (other shoulder). All injuries required surgeries and a very long recovery filled with physical therapy. I just recently had my torn labrum repaired on Friday, February 12th- it happens to be the 2nd surgery on the same shoulder I had a different injury resulting in surgery during college (and missing out on a softball season). The experiences have been extremely discouraging, humbling, and limiting to the activities I enjoy doing. On the other hand, I’ve learned how to be better at being vulnerable and asking for help. I’ve also gained compassion and empathy for those living with disabilities that cannot be fixed by surgery or physical therapy. I love the quote “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do” (John Wooden). Because I believe in those words, I have learned all about adapting my exercise routine to be able to keep moving despite my injuries- this has helped me grow as a PE teacher. When students are injured, I have a menu of options to help them stay active.” – Ms.Shelley


Middle School to High School Transition


“Something difficult I experienced was moving in the middle of high school. I grew up in Alaska, and I went to school with the same friends I had started kindergarten with! It was hard to move to a new place, make new friends, and start all over. There were definitely days I was sad, upset, or angry about having to move at such an important time in my life. I’m not going to lie, the transition at first was difficult. But, through this experience, I also learned a lot. I learned how to adapt to new situations, meet new people, be less shy, and be more confident in myself. One of those most important things I learned was to be more independent.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t move here and experience those difficulties, so in the end, I’m so glad I did!” – Ms.Eggeling


Losing Someone You Love


“Losing someone is like losing part of yourself, especially when that someone is in your family.  It’s even harder when you never get a chance to say goodbye.  Almost a year to the day, I had to say goodbye to my Granny from a distance.  It was so sudden and during the beginning of Coronavirus regulations, that even if I was able to make the 5-hour drive to see her, I wouldn’t be able to see her for very long or with my other family members.  She passed away peacefully in her sleep on a Thursday while I was 300 miles away, hoping she would keep going long enough so I could see her one last time.


I wasn’t able to make it, but I keep remembering the last conversations that we had on the phone.  I talked about cooking meals that I hoped to share with her, laughing about memories and recent stories we both had, telling jokes while smiling so big my cheeks hurt, and how we kept finding hope even though our situations at the time looked grim.  Those moments have helped me. Those moments have reminded me, too, that you don’t need to say goodbye in the last moments.  Sometimes, you just need kind moments to hold on to and cherish.  Not a day goes by where I don’t miss my Granny, but when I remember the simple moments and how her love always made me smile, I know she’s not that far away.” – Miss Evans




“Betrayal. That’s what I felt. Like the world had stopped spinning. I felt angry and hurt. Of course, my friend and I had been drifting away for some time, except we tried to fix it, we both had said some things we didn’t mean, and it was getting out of hand. I desperately needed my friend to be there for me and put her hands around me telling me it would be ok. I felt hot tears swimming in my fragile eyes, that are not used to that crying sensation. My other friends had warned me to stop trying, but I didn’t listen. And here I am, crying on the leather couch.” – Natalie Maxey


Jazz Band


“When I was a sophomore in high school, I was asked to audition to play the piano for our high school Jazz Choir. At that point, I had been taking piano lessons for nearly 10 years and was a decent music reader and could play classical music with precision and lots of expressions. I was asked to audition for the rhythm section of the Jazz choir because I knew the music director and she was interested in having me join the Jazz Choir. I was very flattered and excited to participate and wanted to do my best, but playing jazz was so much different than playing classical music. Not accustomed to failing, I began studying jazz with much interest and determination. I took private lessons from a talented, local jazz musician and I attended the Frank DeMiero Jazz Festival at Edmonds Community College. My skills improved and I gained confidence in playing this new style of music. I loved the camaraderie and fun of playing in a small group with other musicians and I ended up playing for the choir all four years I was in high school. In addition, I supported the Jazz Band. While I never became as good at jazz as I was at classical music, nonetheless I fell in love with the spirit and struggle of jazz and it exposed me to all sorts of wonderful experiences that came from playing music with other people!” – Ms.Hyppa




“Something hard that I have had to deal with during this pandemic is the scary truth of Covid. Do I have it? Did I spread it? Do my family and friends have it? Is my family safe? I didn’t get Covid or spread it. But I did get awfully close. My mom is a nurse and is constantly changing out masks, wiping down countertops, and getting tested. So we are pretty serious about how we are handling Covid. At the beginning of this year, a little after Edmonds closed down my friends and I would hang out once every week. We would social distance a little, but we weren’t wearing masks all the time. So yes, very dangerous. About a month later, my mom thought that I was getting symptoms, she was worried and started to think about how we would live if I did end up having Covid. I went to the doctors to get tested (same with my mom), and about a week later we were told it came out negative. I was very relieved. But now I didn’t want to hang out with my friends in the same way. If my friends wanted to hangout I would get stressed and ask myself constantly, is this safe? Is this necessary? It was all so complicated. My family has had three major times when my mom or I would think that we got Covid. Then we would wear our mask inside the house, all the times we have been fortunate enough to feel better the next day. But there is always the worry of thinking we won’t get so lucky the next time.” – A.M.