You never really know what you have until it’s gone.
That simple sentence seems to take on so much weight and burden. It’s not something that we long to hear, or that we long to say. It’s more like some kind of euphemism we invented to help ease another’s pain.
This last week we lost someone in our community. Someone so innocent and young, causing us to question what "right" there is left in this world. Why do things like this happen? It’s just not fair.
When I heard about how a 14-year-old girl died on the corner of Jefferson and Alameda last Monday, I couldn’t comprehend it. I look over at that corner on my way to school in the morning, when I go to swim practice and when I’m headed to see a movie with my friends.
I drove by it at 7:20 that morning. I drove by it at 1:15 that afternoon.
When we say that a picture is worth a thousand words, that isn’t always entirely true. Sometimes the opposite is in effect. No words can describe something like this.
There is no big moral or life-changing metaphor that I can pull out of a tragedy like this. There are certain things that are just sad, incomprehensible and gut-wrenching.
I can, however, say this:
She went to Woodside. I go to Sequoia. She had hopes and dreams. I have hopes and dreams. She was a teenage girl. I’m a teenage girl. We were rival high schools, battling each other in sporting events. She cheered for orange. I cheered for purple. I didn’t know her. I wish I had.
Life is precious. We go through our rollercoaster of life and don’t really think about these things, day to day. We get caught up in our meetings and our schedules and our plans for the future.
Then, when something like this happens, it’s like our whole world gets rocked. I thought about all my good friends that bike to school every morning. It could have easily been one of them. I thought a lot about how nothing is guaranteed, and how each and every day, I need to look my friends in the eye and tell them that I love and care about them. It doesn’t need to be cliché. It just needs to be meaningful.
When I drive by that corner, I no longer just think about how I’m running late for my next activity or meeting. I no longer impatiently grunt at how long the light is. Instead, I notice the bouquets and I remember.
I remember that today is special and unique and that I should cherish it for all that it is worth, because no one can predict what will happen next.
We can’t readily prepare for our next moments. If that was the case, I guarantee that a lot of us would have done a lot of things a whole lot differently. But, since that is not a viable option, we’ll just have to settle for living and loving to our fullest potential, hoping that we won’t regret it in our future.
Then again, I doubt we ever will.
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