Two weeks before my sophomore year of college, I became an adult. I was 19 years old and I had just found out one of the guys I went to high school with was just killed in a really bad car accident that had also paralyzed his brother. To some people this wouldn’t be such a life changing event except I was one of the lucky people. Lucky in the sense that nothing bad had happened to anyone I knew or was associated with while I was growing up. In a sense, I was sheltered from the reality of it.
This wasn’t a guy I was close friends with but we were acquaintances. We hung out with the same people, had some of the same classes, and attended the same school functions. To me, this was the beginning of the end. This was my eye opening to the devastation and horror that follow a senseless tragedy and loss of life. It was with this realization that I became an adult. Never again would he get to experience the things most people take for granted. He would never graduate college, get married, nor have children. For all we know, he could have been the person to discover the cure for AIDS or cancer or end world hunger. Probably not, but he would have had an affect on someone and make the world a better place with all he had to contribute. We’ll never know what that might have been though.
It took me almost a year and a half to stop thinking about him every day. To stop seeing places or things that reminded me of him. To dull the feeling of heart breaking remorse for the life he wasn’t able to live. It has changed the way I live just as it has changed the way I view death. I like to think of it like this. The time we have left on this earth is like the sand in those timers you get with some board games. When you flip it over, the sand steadily falls to the bottom until there is no more left. This is how I view my time. Every minute more sand falls through but I can’t see the top portion of the timer to see how much sand is left. This is also why I feel like I’m running against time. There are so many things I want to accomplish before I die and I’m rushing to do as much as possible before the sand is all gone. In a weird way, I also feel like I need to make my life worthwhile and fulfilling to make up for the fact that he will never be able to. It may sound selfish, but his death opened my eyes to life. This I believe made me an adult and I plan on living my life to the fullest to honor him.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.