This I Believe

Amanda - Elkins, Arkansas
Entered on April 5, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in doing things because you get to, not because you have to.

My freshman year of high school a close friend of mine had the flu. He missed several days of school so his parents decided to take him to the hospital. He was then diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. His conditions worsened over the next month but the reality of the situation didn’t really sink in. I wrote him letters in the hospital and prayed for him every night. He came to school one day and I couldn’t believe the sight of him. He had been placed into a wheel chair and was so skinny and pale. He didn’t even resemble the boy that I had grown up with since kindergarten. The next time I saw him was lying in a casket 2 weeks later. I was in disbelief. How could this happen to me? How could this happen to us? The death of my close friend and classmate shook my and our community’s world. Everyone was at the funeral. The town was completely deserted. The gym was full: not one seat open.

My sophomore year of high school has a similar story. It was basketball season and everyone was getting ready for the big game. A couple of the players decided to play a pick up game before they had to go to the gym. One of the players suffered a massive heart attack and dropped dead on the concrete playground. The announcement was made over the intercom during the girls’ basketball game, which I was playing in. We stood their stunned on the gym floor. The whole gym filled with sounds of hysteria. The game was cancelled. I heard nothing but silence and watched my high school basketball game transform into a funeral right before my eyes. Everyone was at the funeral. The town was completely deserted. The gym was full: not one seat open.

My senior year of high school was going great. Spring break was about to be over and I was headed back home from Destin, Florida. My best friend’s cell phone rang. Within 5 seconds of answering the phone she began to cry. She had just been told that a sophomore at our high school, who we both had treated like a little brother, had been killed in a four-wheeler accident. He and his girlfriend, a freshman from Farmington, had wrecked into a tree and were killed instantly. They were not wearing helmets. Back to school started with our gym turning back into a funeral. Watching our younger classmates go through what we had been through twice already was heartbreaking. Everyone was at the funeral. The town was completely deserted. The gym was full: not one seat open.

The most valuable lesson that I learned in high school is being thankful for getting to do things. I get to go to college. I get to go to work. I get to write a 5-page paper at 2 in the morning. I get to take finals. Some people never get chances like these. I believe in doing things because you get to, not because you have to.