Most people can't name the day, the moment, when they grew up. It happens so gradually over time that one day you realize you've done it, but you don't know when.
In some ways, that's the case for me too. But not completely.
October 9th, 2002. That's the day I grew up.
It feels odd to me that it was ten years ago.
Ten years ago, a new freshman far away from home and eager to make friends, I lent my car to a group of girls I was just beginning to know. I was supposed to drive them to a dance club in the town across the state border, but auditions for the fall play were running late and I wanted to stay.
"Here, you can borrow my car."
I handed the keys to a new friend. Funny, full of energy, music loving Christie.
Just a little bit later she was dead. The lives of the rest of the girls in that car would never be the same, some of them suffering life changing injuries.
In many ways, I was on the periphery of that experience. I wasn't there. I don't know how it felt, how scary it was, how overwhelming.
I do know what it was like to be woken up by the Residence Hall Director in the middle of the night. I do know what it was like to go clean out my car and see the aftermath of the accident in broad daylight. I do know what it was like to mourn the loss of one of our own with the rest of my Cottey family.
And I know what it's like to grow up in one day.
Today, as I do many days, I am remembering Christie. The girl I knew so briefly who changed my life so permanently. I am remembering her family and her friends who feel her loss so much more profoundly than I do. And I am remembering the love of a community that I am so grateful for.
"If we share this walk together, nothing can stand in our way. If we share this walk together, we can share the love and the pain. Life can be a challenge, but in our hearts you'll find, a helping hand, someone to understand, a voice that's always kind. If we share this walk together, nothing can stand in our way, if we share this walk together, we can share the love and the pain."