The following essay was written by Johnathan Fiske, our $500 Spring 2015 Scholarship winner. Congratulations Johnathan! Click here for details on our next scholarship contest.
“You’re a little Boston terrier, short and stout. Did you know you’re my handle, despite not really having a snout?”
You are blissfully snoring in my lap as I stroke your aging fur after singing you my makeshift nursery rhyme. The fireplace crackles and pops as I sit with you in front of it on this chilly winter morning. Being with you is an increasingly rare thing; life and its responsibilities are pulling me further away from home and you. Worse, I’m about to graduate college. Only seven more classes left. Seven more classes until a new chapter of my life beings and I go to regions unknown. And you are largely to thank for it.
You were originally a present in high school to one of the loneliest children in San Jacinto, California. I suffered from social isolation due to my autism diagnosis and was having a hard time adjusting as a freshman. You waddled into my life when I was desperately trying to not be depressed, when my grades were in danger.
What a present you were! The gift that keeps on giving!
You are not just man’s best friend. You were my first true friend who provided me unconditional love and companionship.
I love you because when I came back home from school, crushed by being the pariah of the school, you were so excited to see me. You listened to me talk about my obsessions with science, talk about great minds and scientific achievements, without telling me I was a know-it-all like my peers did.
One of the most devastating things to happen was when you were suddenly gone in the middle of my sophomore year. It was only fortune that returned you to me a year later…with your toenails painted blue. Most likely by whoever took care of you that agonizing year you were missing. I couldn’t imagine how things would have turned out if you were gone forever.
Because of your return I was less alone and depressed, which undoubtedly helped my grades. My performance in school sky-rocketed me to one of the best university systems in the world, where I transformed from the lonely, shy autistic boy to an eloquent young man with many friends.
I’ve been a scholar longer than you have been living, yet I’ve learned more from you than all my years of schooling. You have seen me grow up and I have seen you grow old.
I gently kiss the top of your head and one of your floppy ears shift a bit, and I could have sworn I saw you smile.
The only thing I can do now is keep you company whenever I can. Whenever I am home from college, I never leave your side like you never left mine. I promise that I will never forget you, what you have done for me, and what you have allowed me to become.
You will always be my handle because you lift me up.