Too Close To Home

Too Close To Home

The life of the dead is in the memory of the living.
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Every day, someone dies. Someone's cousin, brother, best friend, parent, or coworker dies. Some might say that death is inevitable. But does that change the way we feel whenever we get the news that someone we know and love has died? I don't think that any of us can really wrap our minds around why bad things happen to good people, and why God takes those we love from us sooner than we would have hoped. But some things aren't meant for us to fully comprehend.

This past weekend, I got a better understanding of how God knows exactly what he is doing and that he always has a plan. This past weekend, my college community and my home community were shattered. A friend of my older brother was senselessly murdered, about 30 feet from my front door. He was not only my friend's brother, but he was a Phi Delta fraternity member, Bulldog Burger employee, his parents' son, my next door neighbor, and a good person. While I could not imagine what his family is enduring right now and over the days and weeks to come, I do know that God is with his family. I could not imagine life without my brothers, and I hope that I never have to live without them. But I know that if his family can make sense of this tragedy, they can handle just about anything that life throws at them. I don't think that God's plan for Joseph was to be killed at 21 years old with his whole life ahead of him. I think that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think that Joseph's family knows what true pain and heartache is and they will be stronger people for that.

"Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it." - Haruki Murakami

To me, Joseph was just the guy that I passed sometimes walking to class who always had the cool Ray Bans, the waiter serving the people at the restaurant down the street, and my friend's older brother. But now, to me, he is the guy who didn't get to live his life to the fullest for no reason. He's the guy who died at 21 because that's how cruel the world we live in is. He's the guy whose family will have to learn how to go through life without him in it. But just because he died doesn't mean his story doesn't live on.

Our college community is suffering the loss of a roommate, a bright student, a classmate, a coworker, a neighbor, a fraternity brother, and a friendly face. Our home community is suffering the loss of a brother, a high school buddy, a son, a cousin, and a genuine person. The fact that this happened so close to me makes it even more surreal, in a way.

Every day, we go through life making plans of what we are going to do when we get out of school. We are saddened when we hear of classmates and friends dying throughout the years, but do we ever really think that we could be those people? My friends and I had planned to go to the house right across the street from where Joseph died. Before we left, my friend wanted to charge her phone for a few minutes. Shortly after we sat on my couch, we heard the gunshot. Had her phone not died, we could have been too close. I know that God has a reason for everything, and this was an apparent example.

I did not know Joseph Tillman, but I know that he has impacted my life and the lives of many other people in our communities. Whether it be by his life or death, Joseph teaches us to appreciate life and all of its moments, because life is a precious gift that can't be replaced once it's gone.

In loving memory of Joseph Tillman (1995-2016).


Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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