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There once was a young boy named Jack who would ask his family the same thing every year. Now regular kids his age would ask for something common like a toy or a doll. Some may even ask for something uncommon like a book or a rock. Jack, however, would ask for something that you would never expect a child to ask. Jack would ask his parents to never experience sadness, nor heartache. He would ask for everyone he loved to be well and healthy forever. To never grow up, to keep his youth and happiness. 

 Once he made his request he was always met with blank stares. His parents loved Jack with all their hearts, but they couldn’t give him those things. “It’s out of our control little Jack.” They would say. “Would you like a teddy bear, or maybe some ice cream instead?” They would suggest. Jack would always decline. That was not something he wanted. He would then turn around and ask his grandparents, aunts, uncles, even older cousins if they can stop sadness from coming his way. To keep his youth and happiness. To keep his heart from being broken. Alas, they said the same thing his dear old parents said. It was out of their control, and there was nothing they could do about it. 

 One night when he was supposed to be asleep, he prayed for his wishes to come true. He prayed with all his might, but his prayers went unanswered. The young boy grew up, losing his youth. At ten, his grandparents died in a tragic accident breaking his heart. At twenty, he met the love of his life that mended his broken heart. Soon the love of his life broke his heart beyond repair. At thirty, he lost his job. At forty, his parents died. At fifty, the road of sadness and heartache began. He’s ninety now, standing on death’s doorsteps. He looked back on his life. He saw a lot of pain, heartache, and sadness. He experienced everything that he asked not to. He was now a bitter man. He blamed his parents for not giving him what he wanted, but also for dying. Being one of the many causes of his pain. He blamed the woman he used to love, who broke his heart. He blamed his grandparents for dying first. Being the ones to start the pain. He was certain that if they hadn’t died then he would have been happy, he would have still been in his youth. It was their fault that he’s like this. His vision began to blur, his heart started to slow. Is this it? He thought. Has death come for me? I don’t want to go. Tears started to stream down his eyes out of anger. Not only did he blame his family and the love of his life, but he also blamed god as well. WHY GOD! He wailed in his head. God was his only hope. If no one could have gotten him what he wanted then sure enough God would. God would make sure he kept his youth and happiness. He would have kept all the sadness and heartache away from him. However, God didn’t. He let the sadness and heartache take over Jack and consume him. It was all Jack ever feels now. He was drowning in it. When could he drown in happiness instead? God had left him. At least, that was what Jack thought. His heart slowed down until it came to a complete stop. Jack slumped in his chair, tears still streaming from his eyes. This is it. He thought his last thought.  

Suddenly Jack shot out of his bed gasping. He ran his hands over his face not feeling any wrinkles. He ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. He was young again. He still had his youth. He still felt happy. He ran to his parents' room. Hoping this too wasn’t a dream. He opened the door to see both of his parents sleeping soundly in their bed.  He ran to their bed and jumped on it rousing them from their sleep. Both parents were surprised how their son was acting. Jack soon told his parents the dream he had. Every now and then he would pinch himself just to be sure he wasn’t in another dream. “That’s an interesting dream.” His mother had said after Jack told her his dream. “You know, dreams have important messages in them.” His dad told him ruffling his hair. “What could the message be?” Jack asks. Both parents shrugged. “That’s for you to find out.” His dad said. His mother nodded agreeing with him. After breakfast, Jack went outside to ponder his dream. He looked up at the sky as if his answer would be there. Instead, there were clouds moving slowly against the light blue sky. He went over to a tree and sat there thinking. What could the message be? He thought about his requests. He didn’t want to grow old nor be sad. He didn’t want his heart broken nor want anyone he loved to die. He experienced everything he didn’t want in his dream. Suddenly, he thought back about what his grandpa said when he told him what he wanted.  

“Sonny,” he chuckled, “I can’t give you that neither can the rest of your family. Hell, not even the big man himself. Life’s going to give you all of that. I ask for the same things you're asking for. Obviously, I didn’t get it all. The only thing I did get is happiness. You know how I kept my happiness?” he had asked. Jack shook his head. “I stayed positive. Stay positive. Look for that silver lining. It’s okay to be sad for a moment, but don’t stay in that pit.  Nothing good would ever come out of it. You hear me, sonny?”  Jack closed his eyes. “I hear you, grandpa." He whispered to himself. He understood the message from his dream. Sadness and heartache would come no matter what, but it’s up to you how you deal with it. He opened his eyes and stood up. He has a new request. A new want. A new wish, and he’ll make sure it comes true. He wants to stay happy, to stay looking for the silver lining. Granted, he did experience sadness and deep heartache, but he was happy.  

At ten his grandparents died. Jack was sad, but he made a promise to his grandpa, to look for the silver lining. Jack was glad they lived a good and healthy life. At twenty, he met the love of his life. She broke his heart. However, the true love of his life came and mended the pieces. He is now married to her. At thirty, he lost his job. The good thing was he didn’t enjoy working there. With the help of his wife, he was able to get a job he actually enjoyed. At forty, his parents died. He was sad, but knew they too lived a long and fulfilling life. At fifty, begun the road of sadness and heartache. On that same road began happiness and laughter. He’s ninety now, once again at death’s doorsteps, but not alone.  

His granddaughter and grandson were with him, along with his wife, who was holding his hand fighting back tears. “Don’t be sad.” he said to her, “I’m going to be with my family now and soon you will be with me again.” His wife nodded and gave him a small smile. He looked at his only daughter who was all grown up. His grandson was still a young child. He beckoned his only grandchild to come closer. “What is it grandpa?” he chokes up. “Don’t cry young one,” Jack said. “What do you want?” he asked the young child. “I want to stay in my youth. To not experience sadness or heartache. I want everyone I love to say alive.” he wailed the last part out loud. He began to sob openly. “Don’t be sad young one. No one can give you those things or keep it from happening. It’s up to you what you do if you experience sadness or heartache. I was just like you. I wanted those same things, but I didn’t get them. However, I always look for the silver lining. Promise me young one, you too would look for the silver lining.” Jack asked. His grandchild nodded. “I promise grandpa.” His mother pulled him close and gave him a hug. Jack faced the ceiling. He saw his life pass by. It was full of sadness, but it was mostly happiness.  I lived a good fulfilling life. He thought as his breathing slowed. “I love you all,” he whispered. He then died with a smile on his face.  

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