During my junior year in high school, Mr. Reynolds, my English teacher, handed each student a list of thoughts or statements written by other students, then gave us a creative writing assignment based on one of those thoughts. At 17, I was beginning to wonder about many things, so I chose the statement, “I wonder why things are the way they are?”
That night, I wrote down in the form of a story all the questions that puzzled me about life. I realized that many of them were hard to answer, and perhaps others could not be answered at all. When I turned in my paper, I was afraid that I might fail the assignment because I had not answered the question, “I wonder why things are the way they are?” I had no answers. I had only written questions.
The next day Mr. Reynolds called me to the front of the class and asked me to read my story for the other students. He handed me the paper and sat down in the back of the room. The class became quiet as I began to read my story:
Mommie, Daddy …Why?
Mommie, why are the roses red? Mommie, why is the grass green and the sky blue? Why does a spider have a web and not a house? Daddy, why can’t I play in your toolbox? Teacher, why do I have to read?
Mother, why can’t I wear lipstick to the dance? Daddy, why can’t I stay out until 12:00? The other kids are. Mother, why do you hate me? Daddy, why don’t the boys like me? Why do I have to be so skinny? Why do I have to have braces and wear glasses? Why do I have to be 16?
Mom, why do I have to graduate? Dad, why do I have to grow up? Mom, Dad, why do I have to leave?
Mom, why don’t you write more often? Dad, why do I miss my old friends? Dad, why do you love me so much? Dad, why do you spoil me? Your little girl is growing up. Mom, why don’t you visit? Mom, why is it hard to make new friends? Dad, why do I miss being at home?
Dad, why does my heart skip a beat when he looks in my eyes? Mom, why do my legs tremble When I hear his voice? Mother, why is being “in love” the greatest feeling in the world?
Daddy, why don’t you like to be called “Gramps”? Mother, why do my baby’s tiny fingers cling so tightly to mine?
Mother, why do they have to grow up? Daddy, why do they have to leave? Why do I have to be called “Grannie”?
Mommie, Daddy, why did you have to leave me? I need you.
Why did my youth slip past me? Why does my face show every smile that I have ever given to a friend or a stranger? Why does my hair glisten a shiny silver? Why do my hands quiver when I bend to pick a flower? Why, God, are the roses red?
At the conclusion of my story, my eyes locked with Mr. Reynolds’s eyes, and I saw a tear slowly sliding down his cheek. It was then that I realized that life is not always based on the answers we receive, but also on the questions that we ask.