I keep a photo at my desk of a smiling 17 year old showing off the stitches imprinted on her elbow from where she got hit by a pitch hours earlier. I coach high school softball in the spring, and that afternoon, Ky was beamed in the elbow by the fastest pitcher in our Regional. Getting hit really pissed her off, so she stole second and third base on the next two pitches. The fire in her eyes is one of my favorite coaching memories. Ky loved the sport. She worked hard, always asking me to hit a few extra fly balls at the end of practices in the summer. She was incredibly goofy, bringing infectious laughter to the whole team, and was loved dearly by everyone. On a sunnySunday afternoon, Kylie lost control of her vehicle. She wasn't speeding. She wasn't texting or talking on her cell phone. A millisecond sooner or later and she would have missed the tree that took her life. There isn't anything to blame or a cause to get behind that would have prevented her accident. There is no reasonable explanation why she isn't here today. She will be 17 forever.
When I was 17, I crawled into the hospital bed of an 8th grade boy. He'd been fighting cancer on and off since kindergarten, and during the last year of his life, we became friends. One of his nurses came in, and he squeezed my hand while she administered drugs into his IV. Keith had always told us it was okay to cry, and as a few tears slipped out with his pain, I handed him a tissue. We laughed about how the first time he had a girl in his bed, he was crying in front of her. Keith passed away two days later.
I'm not sending out invitations to my pity-party. I simply want to share with you the first two thoughts that run through my head when I hear someone complain about turning 30 (or 40 or 50 or 27). There have been so many young people in my life that won't be seeing 30, and I'm sure they would have loved to celebrate another birthday instead of the cruel fate they were dealt.
I'm 27, I've been married for two weeks and two days, and I have incredibly loving and supportive people in my life. I am not shy about telling them how much I love them and need them in my life. Take time today to shoot a text or an email or a call or a snap or a high five to someone you care about. Don't let your love go unsaid.
My three pieces of wisdom:
1. Donate Blood. (If you say you don't want to do it because you don't like needles or it hurts, remind yourself of what the person on the other end is probably going through when they receive it. My guess is it's a lot worse than a needle prick.)
2. Pick up litter. (I know you aren't the one who put it there, but you should be the one to pick it up.)
3. Be kind.
Song: "Don't Wait" by Mapei
Coon Valley, Wisconsin
PS. If you shop online with Amazon - Register at amazonsmile and choose Ataxia Telangiectasia Children's Project to give your purchase a little more meaning. Kids with rare diseases deserve first-rate research.