Ever since I was four years old, my best friend and I hung out everyday after pre-school. We were always having fun together whether we were playing in the yard, riding our bikes, collecting bugs or creating bugs out of his rubbery bug maker. I always knew we would be friends forever, mature together in school, and celebrate high school graduation together. Little did I know, life does not always turn out the way you plan.
I will never forget the day my life turned upside down. I was nine years old, and it was the Friday of the second week of my fourth grade year. I remember riding the school bus home that day, and my best friend was wearing shorts with longer black socks. Some people might have thought he looked silly wearing black socks, but not to me. I was used to him wearing longer socks with his shorts; that was his style. As I watched him mosey off the bus to his house, it never crossed my mind that that was the last time I would see him get off the school bus.
The next day, I decided to tag along with my older sister to baby-sit the neighbor kids. The house we babysat at was three houses down from my friend’s house. It was late afternoon, and the kids were laying down for a nap when all of a sudden we were shaken by the sounds of sirens. I heard the blaring get closer and closer. When the sirens stopped close to where my sister and I were babysitting, I realized that someone I knew, from my hometown of 150 people, was in danger. My sister and I glanced outside and realized the ambulance and fire trucks were stopped in front of my friend’s house.
It perhaps was not such a smart idea at the time, since the kids we were babysitting were taking naps, but my sister and I scurried to see what was happening. The next thing I knew I was standing on the porch of my friend’s neighbor’s house. I was trying to grasp the reality that my best friend had been hit by a car while riding his bike and was now laying on the side of the road with people all around him. Others were holding back his screaming and tearful mother. I remember only being able to recognize his blonde hair because of the cluster of people around him trying to aid is pain. I wanted to see more, but I was not able to think straight. My sister turned to me as I stared at his motionless body and asked if I was alright. I remembered thinking it was not the moment in time to break down, and all I could say was, “I don’t know.” She pointed out to me that my face appeared bluish in color. It is hard to express exactly what I was feeling at the time of the incident because I was stunned to the point of not knowing how to show any type of reaction.
After they swept him off to the hospital, my sister and I went back to babysitting. We received updates on his condition and knew there was a strong possibility he was going to lose the fight. The next morning as my family and I were getting ready for church, the phone call that everyone dreads became reality. My mom swept me up in her arms. I sobbed all day and for an extensive time thereafter.
I will never forget the day they laid him in the ground. It was one of the hardest days of my life. Because of his sudden death, I unwillingly experienced two effects that do not mesh well together: aloneness and sadness. I blamed God for the many years for the pain in my life after my friend’s death. I wanted to know why my friend had to depart from this earth at such a young age and why him.
Through time of growing up and becoming more knowledgeable, I was able to find the strength to forgive God. I understand there was a reason my friend was taken away from his friends and family at a young age. Will I ever know why, probably not. This is something I will wonder all my life.
Physically he is gone, but I know he will always be with me in spirit. With the strength I have gained through the heartbroken experience I encountered, I am finally able to state that I believe in forgiving but never forgetting. I forgive God for taking my friend away from me but I will never forget the short but exhilarating life he lived, how smart he was, and the times we shared together.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.