My school has just suffered a horrible tragedy. A student was found dead two days ago, the morning after our homecoming dance. I did not know this young girl; she was a grade younger than me. Everyone I talk to says how beautiful she was and how kind she was to everyone around her. Today we wore yellow to honor her memory, and we brought flowers to decorate her parking spot. School was different today. There was a hushed solemness in the hallways, and counselors filled the library to talk with friends and family members of the girl who died. Occasionally you could hear hysterical sobs and then see a teacher or another student leading someone down the hallway towards the library. Students clutched each other in between classes. They sat stiffly and forlornly during lessons, not taking in anything being taught. Without the incessant chatter of friends, the school grew increasingly eerie.

Even though I never knew the girl who died so young, the other students’ grief was so palpable that I could feel tears growing in my own eyes. I feel awful about this young girl, but I wonder how many of these grieving people really cared about her while she was alive. Isn’t it more fulfilling to appreciate people while they’re alive and not after they’re gone? As Meyer Wolfsheim says in The Great Gatsby, “Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.”

When I die, will I be remembered? I wonder, when I die, who will want to honor me or bring me flowers? Who will cry during class or have to go to a counselor? I wonder if I really mean that much to people. If that young student knew it was her last day to live, what would she have done differently? She went to school for eleven years, and it seems like it was all for nothing. It makes me question whether or not I’m wasting my life. Every day we wake up, we go to school or work, we go through the daily routines, we come home and do homework and eat dinner. We go to bed and wake up the next morning to do the same things over again. We wish our lives away, wishing to do something better with our lives, wishing to just be a little older so that we can do bigger and better things. But what if we don’t have time to grow older? What if we can’t grow up before we die?

We should live our lives now, not wait for the years to pass us by. If we live our lives like there is no tomorrow, then we will be satisfied. Life is not long enough to sit by and watch it pass away from us. We need to live to make others happy, to make ourselves happy, and to make a difference in this world. Appreciate people while they are here so that they will want to stay here, alive and awake, and not so depressed that they drink or party or do drugs in order to escape from this life. What if it’s our actions that cause them to fall so far? If everybody loved, if everyone was kind, would depression and suicide stop? If no one was cruel, then people would not have to find ways to cope with their problems. Drug and alcohol use would stop. I’m hoping that the young girl’s death at my school will not be in vain. I hope that her death will cause these students to re-evaluate their lives and want to make a difference. And maybe these students will want to be kind to others and become better people to prevent other young people from dying.

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