This I Believe

Corissa - Tinley Park, Illinois
Entered on May 4, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Don’t Take Life For Granted

I lost a friend to speeding. Since then, I believe you can’t take life for granted. It’s wrong to think that death can’t strike the ones around you, and unfortunately my rude awakening came only a year and a half ago. The memory of my friend will always be with me, and his accident has indeed changed my life.

My sister graduated from Illinois State University, and in 2003, she moved back home with her boyfriend, Jon Cornwell, to try and get her life on track. At first, I thought Jon was all wrong for her. He was a rebellious, fast-driving, construction worker that no mother wants her daughter to date. He smoked, constantly swore, and had trouble minding his manners. However, because first impressions aren’t everything, I gave him a chance, and in the end we became really good friends. During the two years they dated, my boyfriend John and I would constantly get together with them and do things like play cards, board games, and watch movies. In time, I began to really see Jon as the older brother I never had. I told him when he was being annoying just like he told me when I had an attitude problem. We had a unique friendship that just worked for us.

Unfortunately, after two years, my sister broke it off with Jon and decided she didn’t want to be with him any more. In the aftermath of their relationship, he would still come to our house to try and get her back. I will never forget the last time I saw Jon. He was at our house waiting for my sister to come home. He waited and waited but when she didn’t show up, I could tell he was emotionally distraught. He gave me a hug goodbye and told me to keep in touch no matter what. It was as if he believed we’d never see each other again. Even though his words were genuine, I didn’t take them seriously because in the end, I figured they would get back together. So I casually hugged him and repeated back what he said to me without thinking too much of it.

Two weeks after our goodbye, around 1:00 A.M. on September 8th, 2005, Jon was driving too fast, lost control of his truck, and flipped it over into a forest preserve. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital due to a broken neck and spine. My mother called me later that day after school and lightly said, “Hunny, Jon died in a car accident.” I refused to believe it – bad things just can’t happen to the people in my life. Reality hit when I had to attend Jon’s wake and give him the formal goodbye I neglected to give him the day he said goodbye to me.

Since the accident, I have terrible thoughts about death on a daily basis, and I am constantly worried about the people in my life. For instance, I make sure my mom calls me when she’s home from work to prove to me she wasn’t in an accident. I get very nervous when I am unaware of the location of my loved ones. Jon’s death has caused this anxiety; however, I don’t think I would want to go back to my naive perception of life.

I used to believe that terrible things only happened to terrible people. The thought never crossed my mind that someone I care about could be taken away from me in an instant. The phrase “don’t take life for granted” was merely a saying and meant nothing more. I admit I was in a state of denial, but I really did believe I was immune to tragedy. I had never had some one close to me die before, which is why I think it’s had such an impact on me. To this day, I have made it a point to always let my family and friends know how much I love them, and I no longer believe that bad things can’t happen to those around me. Jon’s death taught me a lot; but mostly, it taught me to never take the people in my life for granted because tomorrow is never guaranteed.