Photo by Colin Smith

Moving forward from memories

The thought of losing a parent is gut-wrenching. The thought of not being able to see the person that loves you the most ever again is shattering.

According to the New York Life Foundation, an estimated 1 in 14 children in the U.S. will lose a parent before the age of 18, constituting over 4 million children nationally. Many of those who have lost a parent growing up struggle to find joy and to be resilient, especially when there are only memories left behind. However, one LZHS student has found inspiring ways to build off her loss, and has made an important impact along the way- even through grief.

“I don’t think that I really have fully coped with [my dad’s death]. Just because it’s shocking to lose a parent when you’re that young,” Audrey Cox, senior, said. “I kind of try to shove it out of my mind. I haven’t really given myself a moment to cope with it.”

At the age of 13, after arriving home from a normal day in middle school, Cox received a call from her aunt asking if she could come over to talk to her. She soon learned that her father had passed away a day prior from a brain aneurysm. With this sudden and unexpected knowledge of losing someone she loved most, Cox said her life would be changed forever.

“I actually have really bad anxiety from death. Now [whenever] anyone talks about it, or moves into something like that, I kind of have a panic or an anxiety attack,” Cox said. “It’s something that keeps me up at night.”

Although Cox has had trouble grasping the situation, she has found many outlets to cope with her struggles.

“[Audrey] calms down by talking to her close friends, or by painting. Her artwork is very colorful and they’re all over her room,” Ari Solomon, junior, said. “She uses painting as an outlet when she’s really stressed, or anxious about things in her life or her dad.”

Along with her paintings, Cox also owns two items that help her remember her father that she holds near and dear to her.

“I have a teddy bear that we made, and it has his voice recording on it,” Cox said. “He used to call me bug so it’s him saying, I love you bug [in the voice recording], and I also have a medallion that he used to wear all the time.”

Alongside these items, Cox also enjoys reflecting on the traits that made her dad unique.

“[My dad] was kind hearted [and] an everyone kind of person. [He taught me] not to take things from other people, and if there’s something wrong, or you don’t like a situation that you’re in, you always have a way out.”

Cox’s character development has been greatly influenced by these morals, as she continues to implement these lessons in her everyday activities. As a Lake Zurich High School varsity lacrosse midfielder, Cox has used her dad’s lessons to positively impact her team in many ways.

“[Audrey’s] a really great leader,” Sophia Harcus, junior and lacrosse athlete, said. “She’s definitely made a lot of people feel welcome and brings a positive light into the team.”

The leadership qualities that Cox possesses have led to many successes, most importantly winning the 2022 NSC Sportsmanship Award, which is awarded to athletes who have demonstrated one or more of the ideals of sportsmanship, which include fairness, honesty, and respect. Many of the characteristics in which Cox has learned from her dad.

With only little time left at LZHS, Cox plans to study at California State University San Marcos next fall. With her dad having worked in the scientific field, Cox plans to follow in his footsteps by majoring in Forensic Science. Although Cox has faced many tough battles following her dad’s death, her resilience has led her down a path of success. Being resilient has also taught her an important lesson.

“The time that you spend with people [and your loved ones] is very precious,” Cox said. [You shouldn’t take it for granted].”

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