This I Believe

Cayla - Boca Raton, Florida
Entered on October 9, 2006

My philosophy on life is to live it to the fullest, to use the gifts you’ve been given, and not to take everyday for granted. I believe that each day is a gift, something I don’t deserve and therefore, should not abuse it and throw it around carelessly. I have collected this viewpoint through many experiences, but one in particular stands out.

When I was in the third grade, my best friend, Engel, was killed in a car crash by a drunk driver. She was made fun of a lot and until the last few months of her life, we didn’t even talk. She was an outcast, and quite frankly, I didn’t even want to be seen with her. I started talking to her after we were paired up for a class assignment when I realized how incredibly talented, loving and truly unique she was. She was so full of energy, could sing like an angel, and was just all around a happy person and she brought out the best of me. We started hanging out a lot and before I knew it, I was best friends with the girl I once made fun of.

One day, we were on the playground’s see-saws, and the next day I came to school and she wasn’t there. She was on life support in a hospital. I was nine and I had no idea what life support was, but I could tell it wasn’t good based on my teacher’s expressions. The next day, I came to class and the teacher announced that they had taken her off of “the special machine.” Once again, I was nine and at that point I couldn’t possibly comprehend what death was. All I knew was that she wasn’t coming back and that the next time I was going to see her was when I die to. Not knowing when that would be, I was devastated.

At this point, I know what death is and have learned to get on with my life. Engel’s death has taught me a lot about myself. It has made me realize how special the people in my life are, how I deal with things, and how quickly everything can be taken away from you. To say I flat out don’t make fun of people anymore would be a lie, but now I catch myself and try to put myself in their position.

Engel brought out a different side of me that doesn’t really show anymore, but because of her death, I am a different person. I’m deeper than what people see, think and know. I don’t always live by my philosophy and I don’t always remember it, but I will never forget Engel.