‘I was my high school’s class clown. It is a very small high school in Salt Lake City hidden in the neighborhoods overlooking the skyscrapers of downtown, so everyone in my graduating class knew a little too much about each other. When I first discovered that people voted me for class clown, I was a little offended. Over-analyzing brought me to think about how an image of me with a red nose and orange afro must pop up in everyone’s mind when hearing my name. But, it grew on me. I’ve heard that people might forget about the things you said or did but won’t forget about how you made them feel, and, if I’ve made people feel happy, I feel as though I am living right. My personality is something that I hold onto as a last remaining piece of my father, who passed away during my freshman year of high school.

My father was the life of the party. He was very amicable guy…the local, immigrant shopkeeper who made good friends with every one of his customers. One of my sharpest memories of him at the store was him hand-feeding a slurpee to one of the toddlers with whom we are still close family friends. To this day, they remind my family of how they loved that about him when they shop at the store. His jokes were undeniably the loudest thing about him. I admired him as he enraptured everyone at our backyard barbeques roaring the same stories with the same punchlines about his daredevil shenanigans in India. His personality attracted people. I’ve been told likewise. What a blessing it is to share that part about me with him.

His passing shook me not just in the suddenness of it but also in the manner in which it happened. He had recently been diagnosed with stage four cancer. During one of the short times he was able to come home between chemotherapy treatments, he entered cardiac arrest and became brain dead. We kept him on life support for ten days before we realized that prolonging his life was only a comfort for us to be physically close to him even though he must have been in excruciating pain. Each extra day he spent on life support, the more sore his body became, the more the cancer was spreading, and the harder it became for us to let him go.

I imagine something like the loss of a father would make me more reserved but, to my surprise, it has made me more open to people, and that’s a silver lining I reflect on today. I lived my high school years with open arms to people around me and continue to do so as the young adult I am. I don’t really hold back aspects about myself, and some people admire that while others may be taken back by it. I wish we could all live like that, as real as we are. And I wish we may all find the comfort of having people who cherish us for us in our rawest form.

There is no denying I am loud, I thank my dad for that. I treasure the moments that my humor makes someone’s eyes crinkle and the corners of their mouths lift up. This is how I best care for those around me…by nurturing mental well-being with the medicine of laughter. I hope to carry this passion of ensuring that people around me are well-cared for in my unwavering aspiration to become a physician one day. And so, if that means I’m a ‘clown,’ I will gladly take that without offense and with the grace I hope I exude.’

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