And today was a day just like any other…


How many times are we told to wear our seat belts? A hundred? A thousand? Maybe more? I don’t know. This morning, on my way to class, I didn’t fasten my seatbelt. I put my hand on it, I saw myself going through the motions, but I didn’t do it. All the way to class I listened to the obnoxious, beeping reminder while I drove. No radio, no cell phone, just beeping. A constant reminder of my own disregard for the rules. The beeping didn’t make me do it, and when I got to school, I felt guilty. I felt guilty for not wearing my seatbelt.


But the whole time I was driving all I could picture was my friend, crawling gruelingly to the side of the road; crawling away from the ditch that reached out its vicious claws and grabbed the car only to slam it into a tree.


All I could see was the blood dripping from the gash in his neck, the gash that became a symbol of punishment for his own adherence to the rules, for wearing his seatbelt.

***

I found out about a week ago that my friend from high school was in a car accident. He’s three or four years younger than me, but he’s a cutie, and he’s sweet. My grandmother owns a salon in my home town, and Jay goes to visit her all the time. It’s so refreshing to see someone like him. He just cares about my grandma. And not just my grandma, he cares about my whole family. My family is crazy, fun and loving and everything you could ever want in a family, but crazy nonetheless. I don’t know if it’s their personality, because their the kind of people that tell it like it is and enjoy everyday, or if it’s just that he’s a caring kid. He’s kind of like a little brother to me. I’m supposed to edit his English papers this year.

Because we went to a small school, he was in middle school, I was in high school, but we still played on the same coed soccer team. He was always the not-so-athletic super charming one. I vividly remember the first time he asked me to be his “suga mama.” It’s happened a few times since then, basically whenever he sees me.


He totes his little sister around all the time. I think we share a kind of kindred spirit because just like him, at one time I toted my little sister and my two cousins around. He’s basically just a good guy, and so naturally I wonder why it happened to him. Why does he have to go through what he is going through?


***


More than just the visual of the scene, the “what ifs” are what bother me the most. The “what if” he had been knocked unconscious and bled to death in the driver’s seat of his own vehicle. What if wearing his seat belt had been the end of his life. Then, I can’t help but wonder, next time he drives, what will run through his mind as he reaches over to put on the belt that could have taken his life.

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