Before that day, this is what I knew to be true. I was a college student that still didn’t know what she wanted out of life. This is supported by the fact that I have changed my major five times. My life seemed to be happening without me. I can still remember going to a party before entering high school, and people telling me I was about to embark on the best years of my life. Now in my senior year of college, I pray these are not the best years of my life. I have always believed that the “good years” were ahead of me not behind me. To me, the good years would be when I had that nine-to-five job, a mortgage, a marriage, and children. All of these things represent stability, and more importantly a sense of knowing who you are and what you love.
When I woke up that day, I had no idea that my life was going to change forever. April 16th will always be a day that is remembered by the world. After talking with some of my friends, many who lost someone that day, there were questions of why it didn’t happen to us, and why we were still here? In the days afterward, the biographies and accomplishments of those lost that day were broadcast on every news channel. I learned about their lives along with the rest of the world, and also like the rest of the world couldn’t understand how these people, who were so full of life, were gone. They knew what they wanted from life, and they were happy living in the present, not looking to the future for fulfillment.
Since that day, when people ask me questions and want to hear my story, my mind doesn’t go to my struggle but to those who aren’t here. I refer to them as the “32 most amazing people I will never get to meet,” and I am convinced that each of them would have changed the world. Since they are not here, and their deaths have forever changed me, I believe that while this moment does not define me, it does forever change the way I live my life now. The way they lived their lives has served as a priceless lesson. No longer will I wait for happiness, but instead embrace today and enjoy each and every day. I know that bad things happen that you can’t control, but I have learned and believe so much more good will come out of this tragedy. Now, I do not delay happiness and I am content where I am now, knowing that whatever the future holds, I will have smiled the whole way. I believe in living in the present and not waiting for tomorrow. These 32 fallen Hokies have given me a wonderful gift, and in return, I will do my part to continue their legacy and their dreams, because I know they would not waste this precious gift…life.
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