(School assignment)

Describe how an experience, a relationship, a challenge or an obstacle in your life has influenced you, and tell us what your fellow students can learn from you as a result.

"Watch out! Here I come!" The water splashed as Tommy flipped into the lake. "I can do it better!" Dilly boasted. He tried, but his dive was not quite as well done as Tommy's. I stood and watched in awe, wishing I could be just like them and do everything they did. This scene of my two brothers from many years ago haunts my memories of our life together.

I have learned a lot from my two brothers, especially the older of the two, Tommy. He was exactly like me. He looked just like me, talked just like me, and even felt like me on certain issues. He taught me to be an individual and not to be overly concerned with what others think about me. He said the only opinion that matters is one's own. To this day, I truly believe in this ideal. Tommy told me to be myself. He never wanted me to try to be something I wasn't.

Tommy introduced me to his friends, who later became my friends, and treated me like I was an equal, although I was four years younger than he. He was well liked by all. Tommy was the only person I know who could bring so many people together. When Tommy had a party, everyone showed up.

And when Tommy died, everyone showed up. On September 14, 1997, my brother lost his life to heroin. His death has taught me to abstain from drugs, for I know what can occur from excessive use. The tragedy of our loss has left a legacy for me and for my peers to follow. Drug awareness is the key to preventing drug abuse. If the families of the community could know what my family, as well as many other families, have gone through, they would put forth the effort to stop drug use. Until then, all that can be done is try for ourselves and feel sympathetic for all of the other "Tommys" out there.

The death of my brother has influenced a lot of lives, especially his brother's. Billy admired Tommy. Anything Tommy could do, Bill had to try to do. When Tommy died, Billy felt as if he could not go on living. He wanted to commit suicide, so he could be with Tommy forever. Billy and I were never as close as Tommy and I, or as Billy and Tommy. Even my assurance after the death could not help Billy, but finally, time away from Tommy forced Billy to heal. Since the funeral, Billy and I have become closer than ever before. We are currently more like best friends than brother and sister. He is presently attending Appalachian State University; I miss him so much. When we talk, he asks me for advice with girls and friends. It makes me feel good to know that my brother cares about me also! Our relationship is a perfect example of how seeing older siblings as idols can inhibit a healthy, close-knit relationship based on love.

The relationship of my brothers to each other and to me has influenced my life and my ideas. Although that day at the lake was so long ago, I still feel the same way. I used to look up to Tommy and Billy as better, older, wiser, and now I see them as my companions who share life's trials and triumphs together.

(Melody received an A on this-as for me; it's a tough one to read without getting emotional)