Within the last month, my home community has experienced two shocking accidents, one significantly worse than the other. On Thanksgiving, my brother was hit by a drunk driver on his way home, which I already wrote about. Then, just last week, a boy who graduated only a year behind me died in a self-inflicted accidental shooting. His death truly shook our entire community, even those who didn't know him personally.
While I didn't know Jake beyond being able to put a name to a face and knowing that he was one of the best cross country runners our school had ever seen, I was in shock after finding out what had happened to him. I still can't believe that it happened, that it's real, so I can't even begin to imagine how the people who loved him are feeling. Parents lost a child, siblings lost a brother, his girlfriend of two and a half years lost the boy she loved, and countless others lost a friend, a loved one.
Looking at the situation, I can't even fathom how I would be feeling in his family or girlfriend's situation. I've never lost someone that close to me, and I've certainly never been affected by anything the way this tragedy affected so many people. I know enough how it felt to almost lose my brother, so I don't even want to think about actually losing him.
This whole experience has really shown me that anything can happen to anyone. I will never end a phone call or conversation or part ways with someone without saying "I love you." Tragedy can strike at any minute to anyone, and I never want to regret not making sure that people were aware of how I felt about them. Between the two accidents that have happened in my community lately, I have never been more thankful for what and whom I have in my life.
I do hope that this situation really teaches people something. Accidents can happen no matter who you are at any time in your life. Jake was only 18, he in no way deserved to lose his life so soon, but it still happened. Life is too short, and we need to enjoy every second and live without regrets.
This holiday season, I ask that you tell the people you love that you love them. Hug your family. Spend time with them, and be grateful that you're able to.
“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand--and melting like a snowflake...” - Francis Bacon