As I walked into Guitar Center weeks before my ninth birthday, I was overjoyed to at last get my first electric guitar. I felt secure. While my parents were divorced, they were no longer bickering and seemed to be friends. Sure my dad was suffering from depression but at least he had been behaving normally for the first time since being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. He had chipped in with my mom to buy me my dream guitar, a 1980 Sunburst Les Paul, and we were there to pick it up. As I walked out of the store and got back into the car, holding my guitar as if it were my first love, I imagined myself as a prodigy, with my fingers effortlessly gliding from one chord to another, forming the bluesy chorus in "Smoke on the Water." But joy over the guitar was short-lived. By the time I got halfway through the parking lot I saw that my mom, who was sitting in the passenger seat of our sedan, was crying. Her doctor had called her to tell her that she had Stage Four Follicular Lymphoma. I asked her, "Are you going to die?" To which my mom replied, "I'm not sure." My heart sank. My parents had been doing so well. My guitar was the best birthday present I could have asked for. Why did this have to happen?
In the weeks that followed, my mom became increasingly ill, lying in bed eighty percent of the day. My dad's depression also worsened and I was forced to provide for myself in the way only an adult should. I did the chores around the house; I got my own dinner, and I had to walk to and from school. My dad's depression was so severe that he required electric shock treatments. My mom, who was undergoing chemotherapy, was driving him to Alta Bates three times per week. It became clear that neither one of my parents was able to take care of me. So just before what was to be my birthday celebration, my parents sent me to Los Angeles to stay with my aunt and cousins. During my time there, I was showered with gifts and praises. While it felt nice to live so well and be cared for, I felt out of place. Four-hundred miles away, my parents were struggling, and leaving them for this artificial life made me feel like I was abandoning them.
Within a couple of months, my mom's cancer went into remission; although she is not out of the woods even now, I feel hopeful as it has not come back since. My dad however has not been so lucky. Off of all of his medications, he is unable to take care of his basic needs like managing his money or even getting shelter for himself.
While these dual blows, my dad's mental illness and my mom's cancer, have been tough to handle at times, there have been many lessons for me to learn. I have come away from these experiences wiser and more level-headed than before. My values have shifted drastically and I can scarcely remember the entitled kid I once was. However my competitive drive is there still. My guitar is long gone and instead of trying to be a musical prodigy, I have focused my efforts on the baseball field. Baseball has been a constant, safe haven in my life and I have been lucky enough to be able to continue to play the game at a competitive level. I have also learned that there is no honor in being a Lone Ranger. I know that there is strength in community. I have participated in having my family come together during crisis with support from the cancer support community and from the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI). Through these connections I have received encouragement and have encouraged others in similar situations. I now recognize that life is fragile and unpredictable. No one has total control over what happens. Yet I am determined to do what I can to carve out of a productive life for myself and appreciate joys that I might have taken for granted had my life gone along as I expected. I also know that health is not appreciated until it is lost and I have made a vow to take care of my own health and to be empathic in helping others to do the same.
In closing I want to add that, although some things have come naturally to me, like my drive, strength, and intelligence, the attributes I have acquired through adversity that I value more. These qualities include the ability to be empathic and nonjudgmental and to have a depth of understanding of the world around me. I believe that all together these characteristics make me an outstanding candidate for the health education program at ____.
I love it.
Despite a few grammatical errors such as missing commas which you can solve with a slow proof-read, I find this essay grand! You painted vivid imagery, avoided cliches, drew upon personal examples and used your parents without making the essay about your parents, still focusing on yourself. I find this almost perfect!
Only criticism, I'm not sure whether the separation of the conclusion is the best idea. You might just want to make it flow together with your whole essay, but if you don't want to, I think it can work too, it just suddenly takes the reader out of the story and plunges them back in to the mindset of "oh yeah this is an essay for college I'm reading".