This I Believe

Cayla - Boca Raton, Florida
Entered on October 9, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

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.