Never Too Young to Die

May 7, 2008
By Nathan Fisher, La Vista, NE

I am outside playing basketball in my backyard when my mom walks down the steps of the deck. Her face looks distraught, so I know something bad has happened. She tells me that one of my youth group leaders, Sarah, died in a car accident. Emotions flood over me, but I just stand there in shock and sit down on the deck stairs. I remember back (only a week before) to when we, as a cell group, played laser tag and how alive she was.

Sarah was a medium sized, young woman, with red hair and brown eyes. She was a leader of the group and was lively, always ready to try something new, and was extremely passionate about what she did as an intern at our church. Sarah loved us and could be really humorous, but when we had gone too far, she let us know. I flashback to the laser tag match. We had a great time, enjoying the competition and rivalry between the girls and the guys. I remember she and I comparing our kills of members of the other team. After that all was finished, it was late at night; we all had to go home to be ready for the next day of school. We said our goodbyes and headed out. That was the last time I saw Sarah Lee, and never once did I think to myself that I may never see her again; the car accident wasn’t supposed to happen.
Before this tragedy occurred, I knew very little about death and thought it only happened to old people. I was carefree and didn’t think that my life could end. I took my friends for granted. When I called, I always expected them to answer.
My mom would get frustrated with me because I never looked across the street to see if the way was clear. Once I jumped from the top of a one-story building to the ground, just for the thrill of it. The thought that this would hurt never crossed my mind; it was just another risk and challenge that I had to conquer, even if it meant breaking my legs (which, thank goodness, didn’t happen). I jumped and when I landed, I had beaten the challenge, my challenge (never mind the two bruised heel bones). That was what was most important to me during the moment. Now that I look back upon the event that changed my life, I realize how unintelligent of a choice that was.

I remember all the fun things we did as a cell group and how involved Sarah was in the kids’ lives. I would tell jokes and she would start laughing and just wouldn’t stop. Soon we were rolling on the floor in complete and utter hysterics. She was only twenty, was in great health and was an amazing leader in the group. Sarah had become a role model to many of the junior high girls and was very involved in their lives. There was no reason for her death, except for the short, split-second lapse of attention that made her pay with her life. Every belief I had of death only happening to the weak and the old was now extremely confused.
Suddenly, a thought struck me; death doesn’t care how old I or someone else is. A friend’s or my own life could have been ended in one terrible incident. I was stunned; I was not invincible and neither were any of my friends. My hands shook, and my face contorted as I thought about the possibility and then that obvious fact that live could end in an instant.

Still, many of my actions have not changed since this tragic event occurred, but the way I see them and how dangerous and deadly they are keeps me in check from doing anything too risky. One of the actions that have changed is that I now look across the street before crossing. Many times I have looked before I crossed the street and found myself looking across again. I have found that this technique has helped me multiple times. Once, because I looked again, I avoided a left-turner that clearly saw me, but did not feel like stopping. I definitely wonder if any of my friends might die, because I know it could happen any time. I always hope and believe they will be fine and okay.

Now years later, my sister is heading out for her sophomore year at Northwest College in Orange City, Iowa. As she is heading out to her car, I tell her, “Make sure you drive carefully and pay attention to the other drivers. I love you.” After she leaves, I pray that she gets to her destination without any accidents.

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