A loss that has changed me for the better

Describe an obstacle that you have overcome.


I always looked forward to June 17, the birthday of my only living grandparent. Every year I spent the day composing corny jokes that made her to snort with laughter and murmur loving approval. But in 2002, in a matter of seconds, my associations with June 17 changed forever. My friend died that day, an event that will influence my actions for the rest of my life.

That summer, my friend Sarah and I were eager to enter high school. I had been accepted in the International Baccalaureate program at South Fork; Sarah had gotten word that she made the cheerleading squad. We celebrated our accomplishments and good fortune with glasses of sparkling apple juice and trips to the mall. Our excitement made us oblivious to the idea of suffering or loss – until the hot night when a drunk teenager sped from a local party, ran a stop sign at seventy miles over the speed limit, and slammed into a car filled with girls and their uncle as they returned home from the movies.

As my mother told me what happened, I couldn’t comprehend her words. Sarah was doing everything right; hanging out with the right people, getting straight A’s, and even sitting in the backseat of a responsible adult’s car wearing her seatbelt. If she wasn’t safe, in that...

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