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Growing up all through life you hear people constantly telling you not to take things in life for granted. I was told that quite often as a child but I usually let it go through one ear and out the other. One day I was faced with the tragic, unexpected death of my uncle and then everything began to set in. I unfortunately learned the hard way to never take the love and family that you have in your life for granted because all of that could be gone in a blink of an eye.
I remember this day like it was just yesterday, it was September 12, 2008, a typical football Friday for Richlands High School. I was sitting in 7th period counting down the minutes until class was over but before class ended, Mrs. Webb, Our principle at the time, called over the intercom, “Chantell Cantrell, please come to the office you are checking out.” Confused as to why I was checking out I gathered my things and made my way to the office.
When I opened the office door my father’s secretary, Melissa, greeted me with a weak smile. With a confused look on my face I asked her what she was doing and if everything was okay. She hugged me and nodded her head and told me that she was here to take me to my mother and father in Grundy.
I knew in my heart that something was wrong but Melissa would not tell me anything. The hour drive to Grundy felt like an eternity.
When we pulled into the parking lot of Grundy Bellacino’s, my father was waiting for me by the door. I got out of the car and made my way toward him. When I got to him, I could tell that he was upset and that he may have even been crying prior to my arrival. He took me by my hand and led me around the back of the building where I met my mother sitting with her head down at a picnic table. I had a chill run down my spine and I knew that something bad has happened. I sat down across from my mother and my father, still holding my hand bent down beside me and with tears filling his eyes he looked at me and said, “Chantell, your uncle Chris has been in a horrible accident,” and with a long pause he finished, “and unfortunately he did not make it.” In that moment, I felt like my whole world had just crashed down upon me. I dropped my dad’s hands and I covered my face and burst into tears. I could not believe that my favorite uncle has just past away. After crying for several minutes, my father lifted my head and dried some of my tears and then told me that we had to go to my aunt’s house and visit her and the rest of my family.
As we were driving to my aunt’s house, I knew I had to pull myself together the best I could because I had to be strong not only for my aunt, but for her precious daughter, Bessie as well. When we arrived, I got out of my car and the entire way to the door I prayed that God would give me the strength to stay strong for my family when they needed me most. When I walked inside, you could feel the sadness in the air. I walked around and hugged everyone and I then made a seat next to some of my cousins and began to let everything sink in. That Friday night was one of the hardest days of my life so far and I had a ling weekend ahead of me. My family made the arrangements on Saturday morning and the wake was going to be held on Sunday, September 14 and the burial services were going to be on Monday, September 15. It was difficult to hear the announcement of his services but I knew attending the services was going to be so much harder. On the night of the wake, I was obviously sad but as I sat there, I knew I needed to take something from this experience. I thought to myself, “What could I possibly take from this horrible situation?” later on that evening, it hit me, stop taking things in my life for granted.
The lesson that my parents preached to me time and time again had finally registered to me. I sat and listed to my aunt talk about all the things that she would have done differently and all the things she wished she would have said and then I realized, I need to stop taking things in my life for granted and live every moment like it may be my last. This was definitely, without a shadow of a doubt one of the hardest situations that I have ever been through so far in my life and I was determined to take something valuable from this. I have learned the hard way to never take things in this life for granted because you never know when they can be gone. As cliché as it may sound, live everyday to its fullest, love uncontrollably, and hold nothing back. I had to learn the hard way but through this I have learned to appreciate everything, even the little things and take nothing in this life for granted. This life, it is full of gives and takes. Give thanks and love and take nothing for granted.
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