November 29, 2010: Today, I’m thankful for Happy Hours from Heaven.
Best friends are a gift from God. And just like everything that belongs to God, the Lord who gives can take away.
Three years ago this week, one of my best friends passed away in a car accident.
I knew something was wrong when my mom hugged me as soon as I walked in the house. I mean, she had a right to be grateful that I was safely back from my first business trip, but a hug like that is usually not good. That’s when she broke the news about Danielle. Danielle had been tragically killed in a car accident in North Carolina the night before.
Danielle and I had been friends since fourth grade when I transferred schools. We got along instantly because we both really liked to read and always traded books and recommended books for each other in the library. Seriously- if I read something, she’d usually be the next one to check it out. Same with me- I usually read books after I saw her reading them.
In eighth grade, both of us participated in a reading contest in our middle school, and I read the most books and Danielle was right behind me. We both got to go to the library at the end of the school day and pick out prizes, and it was so much fun picking them out together.
Oh, and Danielle always had an awesome sense of fashion. Even on the jungle gym in fourth grade, she sported boots that would make any high school girl green with envy. Now me, I was that kid who wore the same pair of beat-up white Chuck Taylors every day, but hey- she didn’t care :).
Of course, high school came and like all girls, we occasionally had our petty fights and rifts. I guess that’s just part of the weird hormonal changes that happen then, but we were on good terms at graduation. I went off to Francis Marion, and Danielle initially went into the Air Force. After being honorably discharged due to a heart condition that prevented her from serving, Danielle joined me at Francis Marion a few months later to study Psychology. Despite the fact that Danielle started college a semester after most of our graduating class, she and I walked across the stage at the May 2010 graduation ceremony.
My degree that I will receive on Saturday will mean so much to me and my family. My motivation for school comes mainly from my grandfather (my mother’s father). He always told me growing up to take my education seriously and make something of my life. Well, it looks like my grandfather lived to see his words gain life. My other inspiration for my education are my parents. I love them to death! Even though neither of them graduated high school, they were still able to raise an intelligent and beautiful woman motivated for success and determined to make what she wants hers! Yeah, graduating is exciting but I’m also a little anxious. I’m kinda worried about finding a job and what not but all of that will fall in place with time and prayer. I am just thankful that God has helped me thus far to reach one of my many aspirations and goals in life. I mean I beat the odds. I am educated, beautiful, determined, and independent.— Danielle’s graduation thoughts, as posted in her blog on April 26, 2007.
Danielle had such a big heart for others. Being a budding journalist, I interviewed her for a student newspaper article about why she was a psychology major and any advice she had for those going into it. She was really passionate about psychology and helping others. Someone in her family was diagnosed with a psychological disorder at one point, and that really inspired her. She hoped to work for awhile after college, then move to Atlanta to get her Master’s and eventually Ph.D. in Psychology.
Until then. And I knew that just as my mom was embracing me, crying and being happy that her little girl was back from a trip, a mother just about five minutes away was experiencing completely different emotions after losing her daughter.
The last time I hung out with Danielle was in August 2007 when she worked a temporary job at Assurant, which was my first Tech Writing job. One day after work, we decided to go to Applebee’s for half-price margaritas when we got off at 4:30. She used to work there and knew everyone; not to mention, she knew when happy hour was, which took me a good six months of working at Assurant to learn.
We hung out at Applebee’s that day and just chilled, drinking our margaritas and talking about what was going on at work and what was going on with everyone from our hometown and our high school. We had a great time, and after about an hour and a half of hanging out, she headed back home and I headed back to my apartment.
We always promised we’d go back to Happy Hour, but Danielle left her temp job in customer service about a month later to work at the mall. Even then, we still wanted to hang out, but it never worked out with our schedules.
Time heals all wounds, but three years later, it’s still hard sometimes. I found the article I wrote about Danielle a few months ago at my parents’ house, in a stack of newspapers with my bylines. I have every article I’ve written (thanks Mom and Dad!), but the profile of Danielle is one I’m very proud of- proud that I could capture someone’s soul in a newspaper article.
A soul that just a year and a half later would become an angel.
November 30, 2010: Today, I’m thankful for you.
Yeah, you! The readers- or as they say in college writing classes, “the audience”. After all, what good is writing that’s never read. Funny how I say that when I write
instruction manuals dorkumentation for a living.
Thanks for reading my 30 Days of Thanks posts all month, and thanks for your responses, comments, and even ideas. I’ll admit that some days, it wasn’t easy to think of something unique to be thankful for, but other days, I could think of TONS to be thankful for, and I guess it’s just like that sometimes.
If you missed any, just click here to catch up :). See ya next year!