I sat down a few times to write this post yesterday and it was a little difficult to rearrange the words in a way where they would best describe my thoughts and feelings. I know that tons of readers love when I put style on the back burner every now and then and write about something personal and that's what I will be doing today. If these aren't your favorite posts, a style post will be up on Saturday and a funny college related post will go up tomorrow! I also ask that you be respectful in the comments if you choose to leave one! Thanks!
March 16th used to have no significance to me. I didn't think twice about it...until three years ago. Three years ago today was the first time I ever lost someone. I was 15 at the time and was a sophomore in high school. Being so young, people would assume that the first person I lost would be a grandparent or an older aunt or uncle. It turns out that I lost a friend that morning, a young girl only a few months older than me. We went to school together for 9 years and then ended up going to different high schools. I'm not going to sit here and write that we were inseparable but we definitely were within the same circle of pals in middle school especially. We ate lunch together, we went to middle school dances together, and we sat next to each other in french class. Once we graduated middle school, we went out separate ways and had a falling out but texted every now and then and went to Confirmation class together in 2013-2014. She was a great athlete being a competitive swimmer; one of those swimmers who woke up at 4am for practice and sometimes swam after school as well. She was also a great sister, friend, daughter, student, catholic, and all around a free spirit. She had a vibrant personality and a big heart. She loved her friends and family more than anything and sought every day to be the best person she could be.
On March 16, 2014 she woke up in Virginia Beach, ready to run the Shamrock Half Marathon (13.1 miles) with her best friend, Abby. They had trained for months and months for this race and were so pumped to get going. Despite a great first 10 miles, she began to severely cramp but continued the race in determination to cross the finish line. Once crossed the finish line, she hugged her parents and about 50 steps later she collapsed and slipped into the Lord's arms almost instantly.The news of her passing quickly spread over social media through people from her high school and down to our middle school group of friends. The funeral was the saddest day of my life and struck a deep chord in me and the Richmond community.
This girl, 16 years young, passed away with only a sliver of her life lived. She never took an SAT, applied to college, graduated high school, voted in an election, got married, had kids, got her first full time job, or was able to attend another day of school. For months I couldn't help but think about all of the things that she wasn't able to do. It took me months and months to finally accept her passing.
Cameron's death transformed my thought process. First, it made me appreciate small things, minuscule events of my life that we are so used to taking for granted. Whether it be finishing another year of school, making it home safe after work, or just texting my family, I think about how blessed I am to be able to do just those things. To tell my mom I love her when we text, the feeling I get when I finish a semester of college and get one step closer to my degree, and the comforting feeling when I pull in my driveway at home are all things that my friend doesn't get to experience now. I also think about her family, the kindest family full of God's spirit. I think of the empty spot at the dinner table they have each night, never to be sat in again or the stocking that won't be full of gifts for her each December.
Each day for me and for you is a new opportunity to share what we want to say, work towards what we want to accomplish, hug the one who we love, fix what we have broken, and smile for the things that make us happy. If this story teaches you one thing, please remember that life is a crazy thing and it can be taken from us in the blink of an eye. Whether it be ours or another person's, live each life to the fullest. This means not only should you take risks and work harder than you did the day before, but it also means that we should refrain from saying hurtful things and should treat each other with respect because who knows if we'll get the chance tomorrow to apologize. Look at each new day not as a continuation as the one before but a fresh start, a new gift given to us by God to help us write another page of our story.
Since her passing back in 2014, Cameron's family has started a charity in her name to help fund projects to end teenage depression. If you have a few minutes, please take a minute to check out their website here, read her story, or even donate to the cause!