I usually try to stay pretty upbeat on the blog, but I wrote this today and thought I'd share. If you'd rather not get deep, just skip on down to another post... We'll be back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.
This time six years ago I was sitting in the ICU waiting room at UMC. It all started when my aunt called our house and I was sitting in the kitchen with my parents.
"There's been an accident," she told my mom.
My cousin, Bryan; his girlfriend (now wife), Ashley; and friend, Lexie, had been at the pool when Lexie got a phone call. Lexie's sister, Lanie, had been in a boating accident with my friend, Rachel. Rachel was hurt and they couldn't find Lanie.
Immediately, I bolt upstairs to my bedroom and look at my cell phone. 7 missed calls.
From there, it's a blur. The waiting room. The people. My mom hugging Sital when she came in. The high school principal coming up to me and giving me water. Rachel's family coming to me and hugging and talking to me. Mom's best friend Vick coming over from the children's hospital to see us.
That was six years ago.
If I could go back and tell myself six years ago what my life is like right now, I would be amazed.
That I live right down the street from that hospital.
That at night I can hear the helicopters flying in with other injured people needing care.
I graduated college.
Wrote for multiple publications.
Had my work mentioned on MSNBC, CNBC, and the New York Times.
Live on my own.
Have a cool job I never thought I'd have.
Still see my wonderful friends, those same ones with me that night.
I think I would have said, "You're talking about me?"
If I told my 17 year-old self that today
I went to the church my grandparents helped found and I loved every minute of it.
I went to a service commemorating the Freedom Riders at Beth Israel, the local Jewish synagogue.
I was able to meet many wonderful Freedom Riders at the opening reception downtown afterwards.
I don't know what I would made of that.
In that moment as a 17 year-old, I didn't think that life would ever be better
Because three days later, they found Lanie. Because three days later Rachel was in a hospital bed missing half of her right leg, not able to walk across the stage to get her diploma.
But it did get better.
And it is.
I can't believe how much my life has changed.
And while there are a few things I wish were different, namely that my grandfather were still here, I can't help but be proud of where I am right now.
Last year, on the eve of the five year anniversary, I attended my best friend's rehearsal dinner on that same lake at the same clubhouse where I had once stood and watched divers search. Where I saw them take five minute turns because the water was so cold.
It was different now.
The water was calm.
No one was searching.
[Insert shameless plug here] I also wrote a story for JFP this week about the Freedom Riders and Mississippi Free Press. It's always an honor when they ask me to dig into research, especially about one of my favorite topics. I did a lot of research on the Civil Rights Movement and Mississippi Free Press in college and even presented a paper on MFP at a conference my senior year. Read if you wish.