Traveling back in time I want to invite you to a moment that forever altered the course of my life. Let me set the scene. It was an ordinary Saturday, October 24, 2015, to be exact. It was my senior year of college. I had just arrived in Omaha finishing up my fall break trip in Arizona. I was preparing for work when I gave my best friend a ring. She didn’t have the chance to answer because she was finishing work before she hit the road to Kansas for her birthday trip. We typically traveled a lot together but this particular trip I declined due to a work commitment. Nevertheless, she texted me while I was helping a customer. In my mind, I knew I’d respond later.
Fast forward to that evening. I had just gotten off work and joined a few coworkers for dinner. From there I went to my aunt’s house where I was house sitting and began to prepare for bed. That’s when my phone rang. It was 11 o’clock at night and I wondered who’d call so late. It was another close friend and she asked if I heard from my best friend. I told her I would try to call her. Dialing her number I’m saying prayers in my head because something didn’t seem right. It was late in the night and she should’ve arrived in Kansas. Optimistically thinking I figured she was out celebrating her birthday with our friends that she took on the trip. A few calls later, I called back my close friend and she said there’d been a bad accident with four young women but they had yet to be identified. Searching aimlessly on the internet I tried to see if I could find anything about a traffic accident. My close friend began getting emotional and I reassured her that everything would be okay. That’s when we called another friend and she confirmed that my best friend was in the accident and it was fatal. The four young women in the vehicle were my friends and there they laid on the side of the road lifeless in a vehicle ripped to shreds. Hysterical I couldn’t believe it. It was the day before my best friend’s birthday and who knew it’d be her last. Never in a million years did I think I’d experience such a tragedy in my lifetime. Lying in bed that night shaking I felt guilty. Why didn’t I go on the trip? Was work really that important? If I had went would the outcome have been different?
Fast forward to the present day. It’s September 2, 2019, the day before my birthday. Friends and family are calling asking if I have plans, but I change the conversation and distract them with small talk. Ever since October 24, 2015, my birthday doesn’t seem the same. After all, my best friend will never see another birthday which makes it hard to celebrate mine. When we were in college we celebrated every birthday together and things haven’t been the same since. For the past four years, I have had extreme anxiety the day before my birthday. I feared something happening to me or someone I loved . Every birthday since the accident hasn’t been celebrated. Every year I am grateful to make it to another birthday, but it’s as if I’m holding out for her to come back and join the party. However, we all know that’s not how life works.
It is now September 3, 2019, and I made it. In spite of all the fears, I concocted in my head no one I loved was hurt or harmed the day before my birthday. Unlike all of my other birthdays since the accident, this one was different. I woke up to the small brown eyes of my daughter staring back at me. With a smile on my face, I felt gratitude. Alive another year I have a gift in front of me to live for. Never forgetting my best friend I know she’d be baffled by my guilt and want me to move forward. So, this year at twenty-five my main vow in honor of my best friend and the new life I created (my daughter) is to celebrate every year I get with extreme gratitude for those that didn’t get the chance. Life is a beautiful, fragile, masterpiece waiting for each of us to make our mark. I will continue building my legacy while making sure the legacy of my four friends lives on. No more birthday blues allowed!