Imagine this: A nine-year-old girl just finishing a conversation with a 911 operator after witnessing her mom go through the horror that is a seizure. Instead of putting her books in her backpack to get ready for school, she’s frantically calling 911 after hearing her dad scream from across the room. Instead of eating breakfast, she’s trying to explain to the 911 operator what just happened, how old her mom is, and what kind of cancer her mom has. That nine-year-old was me, and at the moment, I was trying so hard to be brave and call 911 like the mature young adult I wanted to be, but in reality, I was scared, confused and lonely. I was warned that I might have to watch my mother go through some hard things like this when she got back from the hospital, but you never really understand how horrifying it is to watch a loved one go through something like that until you experience it firsthand. It was 7:15am and usually, I would be worrying about what to wear to school at this time rather than worrying about how fast the ambulance would arrive. When the ambulance finally did arrive, I didn’t know what to do. Did I run away and hide in my room? Did I continue to get ready for the day and pretend like nothing happened?  Did I stay and watch everything go down? I decided to stay in the room with her when the paramedics arrived, but watching her get hooked up to all sorts of tubes was not easy to see. Apparently, I wasn’t too good at hiding the horrified expression on my face because all of a sudden a cop in a blue uniform came from across the room and tapped me on the shoulder. In a soft-spoken voice, he asked: “Do you wanna go have breakfast with me?” I’m starving!” I laughed and figured that I wasn’t needed anywhere else, so I told him to follow me, and we headed downstairs. As I began to take out two bowls and a box of Honey-Nut-Cheerios he said,“Thank you so much! What’s your name? I’m Officer Penn.” “I’m Olivia,” I said, pouring the milk into the bowls of cereal. “Nice to meet you Officer Penn. Cereal?” “Sounds great. So Olivia, what grade are you in?” He asked, seeming genuinely interested in my life. I felt so special that someone of such high authority was interested in my life. How great was that! And I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, what a great way to distract me from what I just had to experience. I eagerly told him all about my school and there we sat, eating a nice breakfast while my mom was upstairs having all sorts of tests run on her. Because of this extremely clever distraction, I somehow forgot all about what was going on upstairs and managed to have a very great morning. Without the goodness of this extremely kindhearted cop, I would no doubt be having a depressed, anxious and terrible morning. But that didn’t happen.

And it didn’t stop there. In fact, he decided he wanted to make my whole day better. After leaving for school and saying goodbye to my mom while the paramedics were still at my house, I told my friends that I was now friends with a super cool police officer. I was so proud. Just when I thought I couldn’t get more excited, I suddenly heard my name get called on the loudspeaker.“Could you please send Olivia Mazzola and two friends to the main office? She has a special visitor waiting.” I heard. I rushed to the office with my two best friends and there was Officer Penn. I couldn’t believe it. “Officer Penn!” I shouted. “Just wanted to come say hi and see how you’re doing. Also, I brought gifts for you and your friends!” He handed us all pencils and gave me a special plastic police badge. I was beaming. That memory of Officer Penn will always remain in my mind. No, not because I loved the gifts he brought me, but because it truly taught me that sometimes you get lucky enough to find some special people in your community that truly care about you. I knew Officer Penn for a total of 3 hours, yet he went out of his way to drive all the way over to my school to try to cheer me up.

Throughout the years, he’s continued to show up at my school, and frequently checking up on me. This made me realize that there are always people who care for you, even when you don’t even know it.

Flash forward to five years after that day, and I’m walking down the street when suddenly, a cop car pulls over next to me. I froze. I began to try to think about any possible ways I’d be in trouble with the law (there are not any) when the car window slowly goes down and there is Officer Penn. A huge smile ran across my face. And not a fake, trying to be polite smile, but a true, genuine smile. All the kindness he gave me back in fourth grade began flooding back. We got to talking about my love for plays and musicals when he asked me if there were any I’d like to see. I laughed and said, “Well, Waitress is one I’ve been dying to see!” when all of a sudden he’s on the phone trying to see if he could get me tickets through his many connections. Now, because of him, I am going to see Waitress in a few months and couldn’t be happier.

Looking back at all he’s done for my family and I, I realize that Officer Penn did not have to do any of these things. That day that the paramedics came rushing to my house, he didn’t have to be so kind to me and make my day so much better that I bragged to my whole class that I was friends with a cop. He didn’t have to go out of his way to try to get me tickets to a show I’ve been dying to see. He doesn’t have to keep checking up on my family to see how we’re doing every so often. But he does. He does these things not because they’re convenient, but because he truly cares. So I encourage you to look for something kind to do this summer that isn’t convenient, but maybe something you have to go out of your way to do. Because trust me, if it’s even simply showing someone you care about how their day goes, it’s worth it.

Liv Mazz, aka The Lone Teen, is a suburban 13-year-old living with her father, brother and Havanese puppy. She is an eighth grader who enjoys spending time with friends in downtown Westfield NJ.

When not hanging out with her friends, you can find her dancing up a storm at her longtime dance school, running lines to audition for her next show or singing a ballad on stage. Liv also loves to spend time with her giant Italian family by enjoying a Sunday dinner and great conversation. She cannot wait to begin sharing her story as a not-so-average teen and is super excited to be a brand new addition to The Daily Feels.

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