Recently, I have been puzzled by the tragic events that have hit the heart of my hometown, Madison. It seems as if the past three years have brought only grief to the Madison-Ridgeland area. Year after year, we lose more students, and we can't seem to figure out why. When I sit down and try to take it all in, I end up asking questions that no one seems to have an answer to.
One month ago, The Clarion-Ledger listed several of the recent deaths, which read Brooke Welch, 18, a Ridgeland High School student who died April 24; Janai Settles, 16, a Madison Central student who died Jan. 21; Nichols Phillips, 17, a Madison Central student who died in January 2004; Randy Montrell Ball, 17, a Madison Central senior who died in November 2003; and Ryan Kirkpatrick, 17, a Madison Central senior who died in October 2003. Janai, Montrell and Ryan were each involved in automobile accidents.
Other deaths include Hunter Cobb, 18, who died in Dec. 2003; Matthew Loper, 17, a Madison Central student who died in July 2004; Blake King, 18, who died in Feb. 2005; and Lanie Kealhofer, 16, a Madison Central student who died in May 2005 from a boating accident. Hunter, Matt and Blake were also involved in automobile accidents.
There are things that some people will never understand in their lifetime. It's not that they can't understand it; it's that they don't want to. They don't want to come to terms with reality and believe what they are told. Death is harder to deal with when it's someone close to your age who has died.
How can we deal with death? Could there be a meaningful way in which we can come together, as a community, and help each other through the many losses that we've had. Most people will turn to their family, friends or teachers for comfort, but sometimes that may not be enough. Sometimes we turn to other things to numb the pain. We must express this anguish through some type of outlet.
Since the age of 6, I've been learning how to deal with my father's death. I couldn't understand why he was taken from me. For years, I would search for answers to my never-ending questions. With hope, I found a way to communicate all my emotions. I finally found an outlet in which I could express all my thoughts in life. The answers I had been looking for began to surface in my writings. Being able to write down what I feel has helped me cope with tragedies such as these. When my words slowly drift onto paper, I discover a sense of inner peace with myself.
There is no easy way to deal with death, but there are means of helping us get through it. Many people have told me that they will turn to God in these types of situations, and others will express their feelings through art, music, poetry and other forms. Talking about it has helped some people. There are countless ways in which we can find peace within ourselves.
Another thing that I have realized is that it takes time to heal from this kind of grief. For weeks, we will think about them and wonder why they had to die. We will ask ourselves questions that even the professionals could not answer. Why them? Why did death take them at such a crucial, yet memorable point in their lives? They were so young and had so much to look forward to.
We cannot let these feelings consume us. The world keeps revolving and we all must carry on. Moving on is the hardest part, but with time and hope, we can make it through. Time is all it takes. It also helps to remember the good times that we've shared with these people. It's those moments that they would want us to look back on.
And as we are forced to carry on with our lives, we must remember that we are not alone. There are many people who have to deal with death everyday. Sometimes a song will come on the radio that will remind me of them. I can't help but smile and think of the good times I've had with some of these people. I know that they are shining down on us at this very moment, and they are smiling.
Looking back now, I wish I could have said all of the things that I truly wanted to say. This feeling of regret has taken hold and has made me realize how fragile and brief life can be. Never again will I waste time, because that's all I got. We only have today; we are not promised tomorrow. We have to live our lives to the fullest because each day brings us closer to our last. So, forget useless matters and let go all feelings of resentment. And like the cliché goes, "Live each day like it's your last."
To Ryan, Nichols, Montrell, Janai, Blake, Matt, Hunter, Brooke, Lanie and everyone else who is no longer with us, we will always miss you and wish for your existence here. But no fear, the reuniting is the best part.
Brittney Rosella graduated from Madison Central High School in May.