I always think when I drive. My mind never stops running. There is a song that reminds Justin of me and the lyrics say, “It scares me to death when she thinks and drives.” I don’t drink and drive, but thinking, yeah that is hard to control when I’m driving.
Rainy days like this remind me of tears. Which makes me think about sad events and my past. The rain doesn’t always do this to me, but when I’m driving and its raining — that is usually where my mind wonders.
Today, I drove home and thought about how I used to be a different person. I know a lot of people say that because things happen. We move away. We go to college. We find new friends. We keep old friends. We travel to new places. We stay at home. We have bad break-ups. We have great relationships. But really looking back, I sometimes think of how different I really was prior to the summer before college when two of my friends, Corey Shaffer and Rick Girod, passed away in horrible car accidents.
I sometimes think of myself as having split personalities. Imagine the “devil” and “angel” on my shoulders. On one person on my shoulder is the girl before the accidents. The “crazy” girl. I wanted to go sky diving. I wanted to be a NASCAR driver. Heck, I got enough practice driving around in my big blue van jumping railroad tracks back home. I partied a lot and didn’t really care about the hangover — it doesn’t last long, right? (wrong) I was carefree and did what I wanted without taking into consideration danger of myself or others. I always had an agenda: to have fun, no matter the consequences. I cared more about going out than staying in with my family. Looking back, I wish I was around more for my brother and sisters. I can only hope that my younger siblings look up to me and cherish me in their life, as much as I value them in my life.
On the other shoulder is more who I am today. I’m still outgoing and fun, which makes me seem “crazy” to some people; however, I am fearful, yet thoughtful. Driving in a car terrifies me. I’ve gotten used to it being in a long-distance relationship and commuting to school, but it was really hard at first. My parents couldn’t travel anywhere without me having an anxiety attack. Considering my mom lives in Muncie and works in Fort Wayne- you can only imagine how anxious I was with her driving in a car almost 3 hours a day- on a busy road that the news always reported accidents on. I worry a lot more, especially about things I can’t control — like the world ending in 2012 and tornadoes in the summer. In high school, “crazy” Ashley went parasailing. Now, the thought of falling in the sky over the ocean makes me want to stroke out. What if the cord breaks? What if they dip me into the ocean and a shark bites off my lower half!?
So now, I sit somewhere in the middle. Some days, I think I’d go parasailing again. Most days, sky diving still scares the piss out of me. But I’ve gotten better at the driving thing. Flying, now that is still a work in progress.
But I know that the quote “Live everyday as if it were your last” is very true- we never know when our last day on this Earth will be. Not even the Facebook application that predicts your age and how you will die can confirm your fate. I refuse to use that, on a side note.
I think of those boys all of the time. I think about how my life would be different if they hadn’t passed away. I think about how the lives of my friends would be different if they didn’t pass away. But I’ve recently learned that I need to stop thinking about “what if” and focus on “what now.” They were both incredible people. Big hearts. Beautiful smiles. Bright futures. Their death made me realize that I am not Superwoman. It made me fearful of death, something I never thought of prior. I was just a kid about to go to college. Death wasn’t a possibility, was it?
I know that everything happens for a reason and things like this are hard to understand and explain. I think I’m still trying to figure out why this tragic event happened to these two beautiful people at such a young age. But it can take a lifetime to truly understand something like this. One thing that does comfort me is knowing that my step mom wouldn’t be healthy and well without the donation of a pancreas from a complete stranger. So maybe, for no other reason at all, they were taken from this Earth to save the life of someone else- who wouldn’t be there if their death never occurred.
So what now? I have a lot of major changes in my life about to take place. Graduation. Marriage. Big Girl Job. Babies (in the future — my fur son is enough for now). Its time to start living and update myself on the resolutions I made a few weeks ago. Being excited to change and eager to learn is always easier with a new year, but I need to remind myself of this stuff daily. I need to start a new chapter in my life with a new pen and fresh piece of paper. A new outlook on life and different perspective on the events that occur in my life. I should always remember to smile. Most importantly, I should never forget the value of time.
So for now, I’ll stay in my scuba class. I’ll look out the window during a storm instead of packing all my belongings in case a tornado comes tearing through my town. And I’ll always, always make time for my friends, family, and loved ones — those who are here now.
And for those who are gone, my Angels in the sky, I’ll think of them daily. I’ll do things to keep their memories fresh. I will talk about them. I will blog about them. And for my amazing Grandpa, who passed away my freshman year of high school, I’ll have a picture of him on my wedding bouquet when I walk down the isle. In a locket. I’ll carry it close to my chest, so he comes alive through my heart on my special day.
“But patiently, you slipped away from me, Oh God I want you back, Oh God I miss my friend, But so patiently…” O.A.R. —- R.I.P Corey Shaffer and Rick Girod