Five Years Moves Fast

As much as I love May 1st because of the start of spring and warm weather, it’s always a sad day for me and for the kids I went to high school with. Five years ago today, two of my friends were killed in a car accident. I was in college and they were seniors in high school. I remember the day like it just happened. I remember the funeral and the shock and sadness. I had been to my grandma and grandpa’s funerals, but this felt so much different. It was weird sitting next to friends at a funeral. It was terrible seeing the kids’ parents and siblings in mourning. Seeing a senior portrait displayed near a casket. It just didn’t seem real. Kids don’t die. Kids are supposed to turn into adults and grow up and get married and get jobs. The whole thing felt surreal. But as vividly as that whole time is in my mind, it also feels like a long, long time ago. It’s like I’m looking back on something that happened many years ago. Or maybe I’m watching it in a movie or something. I’m having an especially hard time wrapping my head around this particular anniversary. Five years. That’s a long time. I think about where I was five years ago and things were so different. I was a freshman in college. I had no real idea what I wanted to do with my life. I hadn’t studied abroad. There are many people who are a huge part of my life who I didn’t know at that time. I wasn’t really confident in myself or my own choices. In many ways I was a completely different person. But, in many ways, I was also exactly the same as I am now.

It’s just unreal to think that my two friends who died will always be 18-year-olds (they were a year below me in school) who never got to experience college or adult life. They’ll never get married or have kids. It’s hard for me to grasp that concept, since I keep getting older and am seeing new things every day. How could something so permanent happen to someone so young?

I remember the last time I saw my friend Kevin and it doesn’t feel like that long ago, but when I look back at the last picture we took together I look so different. Then I realize that picture was taken five years ago. I was still a teenager. I still have Kevin’s number in my cell phone. I can’t bring myself to delete it, and I don’t think I will. I just like seeing his name there. I think about conversations we had and things we did together. We went to prom together. All of that stuff seems like it just happened a few weeks ago, but then I realize I was 16 when I went to prom and those days were a long time ago. Sometimes it feels like Kevin and Josh weren’t even real people, but of course they were. They were over at my house, we had classes together. This tragedy really happened.

I know it sounds so cliche, but these types of things make you appreciate what you have. Even if you’re feeling a little lost or confused, even if things aren’t perfect or even close to perfect, events like this make you appreciate the ability to be living and experiencing it all. These things make you want to work hard to make every day count. Just something to think about.

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