Our University of Georgia community was struck with a horrible tragedy and immense heartache this past week. We lost the lives of four amazingly beautiful young women and our prayers are with the fifth whom is still laying in a coma, hoping that she is able to pull through.
I faced what I thought would be the worst of losses my senior year of high school when one of my class and teammates, Tracey Vander Kolk, succumbed to suicide. I went to a typical high school of around 2,500 students, where just about everyone knew of everyone. When we lost this beautiful soul, our Severna Park community came together in the most amazing of ways to support each other through this dark time.
For once there were no clicks dividing who could and would talk to who, we were just Severna Park, mourning the loss of one of our own. The amount of support that my lacrosse team received was immeasurable and I cannot even begin to express how thankful I was, how we all were. My team was my family, and for the first time in what I ever knew, all of Severna Park was too.
When we got the news of the crash last Wednesday night, everyone received texts and calls from loved ones, checking in to make sure that we were okay. A sigh of relief knowing that your best friend, sister, or child was safe, but an ache in your heart knowing that someone else’s wasn’t. Thursday morning, the news broke and names were out. Personally, I didn’t know any of these beautiful girls, but so many people that are so close to me, did. Hearing how highly everyone spoke of each of them, makes me wish I did even more.
Whether you go Greek, find your best friends through your major or a club, or in my case, sports, we all find our way into some of the strongest relationships we will ever make. My lacrosse team is my family and I can full-heartedly say that playing with them is the greatest decision I’ve made throughout my college career. By choice or by blood, family is family. They are the greatest support system and biggest influence that anyone will ever have on your life and I cherish mine more than I could ever put into words.
My heart aches for my teammates that lost a part of their family. For the siblings who lost a sister. For the parents who lost a daughter. For the sororities that lost a sister. For UGA students that lost a classmate. For anyone who lost someone who touched their life in some way. Loss is a terrible thing. The worst thing about it, is that it most often takes from us what we have taken for granted.
It is the saddest reality that it seems to take a devastating event in order to bring everyone together.
So many peoples worlds were rocked and lives were left to feel like they were falling apart. But the thing about falling apart is it gives us the opportunity of coming together. Thursday, while a heartbreaking day, was a beautiful day in terms of our UGA community. Everyone came together to pay their respects and celebrate the lives that were lived, and are still fighting to live.
I am without a doubt sure that so many of you have classes with people you have never talked to. Speed walk through Tate to get away from anyone that tries to talk to you into joining their organization. Sit down on a bus and scroll through social media to avoid the awkward encounter of engaging in a conversation with someone whom is a complete stranger and seems totally irrelevant to your life. Won’t go somewhere or do something different without dragging a friend along so 1. you don’t look like a loser and 2. so that you don’t have to meet or talk to anyone new that has the potential of being weird or creepy or some other random undesirable trait.
Trust me, I know, because I do it all.
This crash hit us all just as any crash does, hard. But in light of this tragic loss, I figure that we all have the opportunity to learn to do one simple thing. Love a little more. Love all you can, while you can. Meet new people. Tell the ones that are already in your life how much they mean to you. Appreciate what you have, while you have it! Such a crazy, cliche concept considering your parents shoved this down your throat as a child and somehow not enough of us have actually grasped it yet. We are all so blessed with such wonderful lives, but it is so easy to take that for granted while we are so consumed with our hectic schedules and distracted by what we consider to be “significant” issues.
I cannot even count the number of times I have complained about my life falling apart this semester just because of a little school stress and being unsure about my future, when in reality, some peoples lives really are falling apart.
The number of times I’ve actually taken the time to recognize and be truly appreciative of that this week? Not nearly enough. And on top of all that, we’ve all developed this tunnel vision where if something or someone doesn’t directly affect our lives, they aren’t even a part of our reality.
Each person that you meet has the potential to impact your life in an amazing way, but you actually have to meet them! Everyone who knew Christina, Brittany, Halle or Kayla, you are blessed. Blessed because you had the amazing opportunity of knowing a wonderful soul that we all weren’t as lucky to have known. With this in mind, we all need to take advantage of this amazing group of people we are surrounded by at Georgia. Dawg Nation is stronger than ever with the immense love we have shared with each other and the prayers lifted up for each and every single person that has been impacted by this tragic event. As we move forward, we will hold those lost close to our hearts, but carry on knowing that the love they shared is still with us, patiently waiting to be shared with each other.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13
In loving memory of Brittany Feldman, Christina Semeria, Halle Scott, Kayla Canedo and Tracy Vander Kolk.
With thoughts, love and prayers for Agnes Kim.