The Fourth of July is always filled with fireworks, BBQs, and laugher. This year a friend from school passed away over the holiday weekend.
It was my senior year of high school and I was sitting outside on the bleachers in Gattas Stadium bouncing my legs to keep them warm from the early morning metal. Sitting at my side was a friend who I can go months without talking to and then pick right back up like we have never been apart. There was a guest speaker for the juniors and seniors before we headed off to prom in a few days. I cannot tell you the name of the speaker but I remember his message. A message that has been haunting me for six years.
“By the age of 25, you will know 25 people who have passed away.”
I turned to Kate, telling her this speaker was stating an astronomically high number therefore he just had to be incorrect. The next fall, I called Kate from my tiny dorm room to share the horrific news that a boy from high school had passed away. We already knew two young people who had passed away and we were only 18 years old.
I do not wake up each morning with a smile on my face, eagerly jumping out of bed to accomplish great things and make sure that I show and tell everyone that I care for them. I have days where I am in my pajamas until dinner time only to change into fresh pajamas and put on a movie while I eat the pizza that was just delivered to my house. I have days where I am upset, sad, angry, confused and I take it out on the people I love the most. I have days where I do not fully appreciate that I have what so many young people I have known over the years no longer have, life.
Snail mail is one of my favorite things and I always stock up on cute stationary to send notes of encouragement, personally updating friends, and to communicate with my pen pal whose phone number I do not even have under my contacts list. I just received a letter from my friend Amy who spoke words of truth into my life and reminded me of what I am good at doing.
I am good at living life with a genuine smile, helping friends in more than just times of need, making opportunities for myself and taking adventures, and I am good at loving my family and friends intentionally.
Those were the words that I needed to hear after learning about Jaimie’s accident. A semi hit her car and she passed away from head injuries the next morning. No fireworks, no BBQs, no laughter. This sweet girl had the world in her hands and was going to continue living her life in a way that gave back to others. I keep replaying the fun times we had together at The University of Alabama and how helpful she was when I first arrived that January. I’m happy to have her in my heart and remember her impact.
I’m 23 and my number has creeped closer to that statistic. As I logged onto Facebook today, I received a notification that July 8th is the birthday of the first young person I know who had passed away. He would have been 23 years old, endless opportunities within his reach. Gone but not forgotten.
Each of these people have left an impact on me despite the varying levels of friendship we held. Their lives are a constant reminder to me of what I still have and all that I can accomplish with some hard work. It breaks my heart that so many people that were apart of my life in some way or another within only 23 years have been taken so soon.
I will because they no longer can.
Rest in peace,