The essay question is as follows: "Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story."
So I came up with the following. It's 558 words out of the maximum 650 allotted so I have some room to maneuver.
Clasped hand in hand I felt his life fade away, his grasp weakened- and finally released. Reduced to a lumpy stub his hand indented the bed and relaxed. His eyes didn't close or even change direction. They just stared at me and dimmed. An imperceptible change but I knew. Everyone knew. My dad was gone...
That's how it should've happened. But it didn't. I was in class when I was called to the front office where my mom was waiting. I knew what was coming. Without a word we walked outside and she told me something. I can't recall a single word from that conversation but I still knew. Her trembling voice, her inhuman gait, those confirmed my prediction, not her words.
My dad didn't come from a rich or even a middle class family. When he was little he owned one pair of shoes (if scrap leather bound to the foot by horse hair qualifies as a shoe) and for celebratory occasions his family would feast on rice porridge seasoned by vegetables stolen from a neighboring garden. Marketing teams for any charity wanting to help impoverished children in the Congo could've used his childhood likeness as a poster. But that life didn't satisfy him. Though he had never savored anything more extravagant than boiled rain water he knew that he didn't have to be bound by poverty. So he left his home at the age of 16 and was able to somehow, despite the obstacles life pelted at him, exit communist China with a degree and make his way to Canada and then to the US where he made his fortune.
The funeral was more than just a final goodbye to a father, as I left his still side for the last time I left parts of myself behind, parts that I still have but at the same time don't. His history and what he had achieved made him more than just a two-dimensional patriarch to me. He came to represent mortal perfection, the apex of what humanity could achieve. I strove to duplicate his supremacy, to impress my God; therefore being mediocre was out of the question. Everything I have- my work ethic, success in school, and above average athleticism- all of it was cultivated out of my maniacal admiration. And though he's gone, that desire to become the greatest version of myself hasn't left, the reasoning for it has simply changed. I fundamentally can't convince myself that he's still watching- I just can't-so now I want it for myself. As Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr wrote: "The more things change, the more they stay the same".
Exactly one year has passed. After the funeral our family was plunged into a nightmare. Months and thousands of dollars were lost from trying to move the titles of everything we owned to under my mom's name. Years were shaven off from our lifespans as stress became the prevailing notion. In addition to the housework my mom did, she now had to take on a low paying job and in addition to the schoolwork I was assigned, I was also obligated to enter the workforce. How we survived this mess my mom doesn't know, but I do. Though he's no longer here, the seeds he planted in me, my mom, and anyone he ever met, survive and continue to grow.