By Madison Lowe
The night of May 30 was surreal.Every expectation I had for how I would leave my high school behind was fulfilled.
It couldn’t have been more perfect.
The night started with a gathering of friends and pictures and butterflies fluttering their wings in every senior’s stomach.
I picked my way through the crowd saying hello and snapping a picture with some whom I know I may never see again. The thought of this being my last goodbye to 544 people that I grew up with was hard to swallow.
The anticipation of seeing the pride on my parents’ face and the joyous tears of my friends brought my night screeching to a sudden halt when I heard our class president remind me of something I have since tried to forget.
“Our class has literally held itself together. Some dropped out. Some got their GED and some, we lost forever.”
Once I heard those words, the smile quickly faded from my cheeks.
“And some, we lost forever.”
The deaths of three ‘13 graduates shook the foundation of Saline County. One after the other, each community came together to mourn the death of Zach, Carlo and Drew. I was deeply saddened by all, but one in particular had changed my life.
He was my best friend’s boyfriend and a somewhat friend of mine. We had hung out, shared laughter, sat together at lunch and suddenly he was missing. Trying to shrug it off to help Macy (my best friend) feel better didn’t last long when she found he wasn’t home when she went to get him after work. Before I knew it I was rushing around trying to get to her side to catch her tears and try to hold my own back, to be strong for her at now, the weakest I had seen her.
The night of Nov. 12, 2012, changed my life forever.
I had never before witnessed first-hand what the loss of a life can do to a community, a school or a best friend.
I was in shock. Stunned. He didn’t really die; it didn’t really happen. I began to tell myself that this was just a dream, that my best friend would soon be jumping in his arms and we would go back to tailgating and eating lunch in no time. I kept telling myself that it was impossible for someone that young to go that quickly and leave not only me, but the Bryant class of 2013 at an utter loss for words.
The next day we held a seminar for all of those affected. People were able to get up and share stories or memories. I decided to get up once everyone had been able to share their tears in front of the entire senior class. I spoke through shaky hands and puffy eyes for my best friend, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done; breaking down in front of 488 students, but also one of my greatest accomplishments.
I no longer felt invicible. I no longer believed that death only appeared in horror films and datelines. Death became real and took my heart to a place I never believed existed. But, more than anything it made me grateful and helped me look at my life with in a new light. As cliche as it sounds, I learned not to overlook the little things and to not take life for granted. It forced me to grow up and understand things that I never would have wanted to before.
“Some, we lost forever.”
Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked around at the incredible students around me. We had made it, but some hadn’t. I looked up to my family sitting in the nose-bleeds and smiled at them smiling down at me. It was bittersweet knowing that they weren’t the only ones smiling down on us that night.
Madison Lowe is a recent graduate of Bryant High School where she served on the newspaper staff. Her column appears each Saturday in The Saline Courier.View more articles in: