Sometimes in life, you do not have any options. There may come a time when the choice is not yours. On September 21, 2002, the beginning of my senior year of high school, I had no option. A very good friend was suddenly and unexpectedly taken that day. Waking to that news is not the ideal start of a Saturday morning. In high school the feeling of invincibility reigns. Point B is guaranteed to follow point A and tomorrow will come, brighter than the day before. But this all changed when Bethann was killed in a drunk driving accident. The days following were the most mentally and emotionally exhausting of my life. I experienced emotions and feelings I never knew existed. There were days when tears would not stop and the anger was unlike anything I had ever felt.
Attempting to keep my mind active and venting my emotions proved to be excellent therapy. My escape was expressing my emotions in writing. Poems, songs, and letters to Bethann and my other friends were my way of dealing with my own pain while trying to ease the pain of others. The day of her funeral was and will continue to be one of the most difficult of my life. Watching a mother and father bury their child is something no one should have to witness. Yet on this sad day, there was a glimmer of hope in the dreary afternoon sky. The hazy September sky held neither sunshine nor rain. However, just as the funeral procession was about to travel to the cemetery, a rainbow spread across the sky. The joy and excitement Bethann's father displayed was enough to bring a smile to everybody's face. Bethann's father John is a big man and to see him absolutely spilling over with happiness gave me the strength to get through the day. After seeing the rainbow, I reached a sense of inner peace within myself. I am certain that the rainbow was Bethann's way of showing her father and everyone she touched that she was okay.
I have always considered the people I love to be the most important aspect of my life. I believe that you are made up of the people you love and those who love you in return. God never asked me if he could take Bethann. But I know that He needed her for something great. God did, however, give me the strength to go on. I had and have control over my own life and how I live it. It is so easy to want to hide and shut everyone out when tragedy strikes our lives. Time stands still for no one, no matter how much it may hurt to move forward. I realize that now.
I will miss and love Bethann for the rest of my life. She had such a strong spirit that brought out a side of me that I will forever appreciate. There will always be a piece of me missing, but I continue to fill it with the memories and love Bethann shined with while she was still with us. Losing a friend at seventeen should not be a part of growing up. Yet, getting through her death has undoubtedly made me a stronger, wiser, and more mature individual. Bethann taught me through her life and passing that life is so precious. Every day, every relationship, every breath is to be cherished. The choices we make not only affect us, but everyone around us. Although I miss her and wish she were still around, I will always be grateful to Bethann for teaching me this important lesson.