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Growing up as a little girl, my family members would tell me not to take life for granted. I never thought anything could happen, so I let it go through one ear and out the other. One day I was faced with the gruesome, unexpected death of my cousin, and everything started to set in. I sadly learned the hard way to never take life for granted because it could be gone in the blink of an eye.

I remember this day like it was yesterday. It was a bright sunny afternoon in September, we had been released from school. My siblings and I boarded the bus and waited until we arrived at our bus stop. When our bus stop came into sight, the bus came to a stop, and we exited the bus, so we could meet up with our cousins. Together we headed to our grandma’s house to meet with the rest of the family. The further we walked, the more we saw her plain, white house come into sight. When we finally got to the end of the driveway, we caught a glimpse of the empty yard, but none of our family members had made it yet. We decided to play while we waited on their arrival. Everyone started to arrive, the empty yard was now overflowing with cars and people. My grandma, being the observant person she is, noticed my aunt had not arrived, and neither have her sons. Without warning, she turned rapidly on her heels and rushed to the telephone. Everyone stood clearly confused as to what was happening. No one knew why she was in a hurry to get to the telephone. Nothing was heard but the clinking of her repeatedly dialing numbers and the beeping of the dial tone. She then turned and mouthed to my dad, “Come here”. We could hear the murmurs but couldn’t make out what was being said, but from their facial expressions we knew it was something serious. She turned and told everyone that our aunt wasn’t answering her calls.

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My aunt always answered her telephone, so it was unlike her to not pick up the telephone. We didn’t want to think the worst, so we waited on her to call back. We waited a couple of minutes which felt like hours before hearing the roaring sound of the ringing house telephone. She rushed to the telephone and sighed in relief when she heard my aunt’s voice, but it wasn’t her normal cheerful voice, she sounded weak. My grandma aware of her tone of voice asked, “What’s going on?”. My grandma’s high-pitched scream, more of a shriek alerted us. As she turned around, I noticed her tense posture and became more frightened of what she was about to say. She hysterically cried out, “CRAIG WAS KILLED”. Everyone’s face dropped, and a wave of sadness fell upon them. She told us he had been murdered and left in a ditch. It took me a while to process what was going on, a terrible feeling fell on me. My cousin was thankful for everything he had, including family. I didn’t know what to think, all I could see was the smooth edges of the white door that had been closed in my face, from being pulled into the room. The next day everyone gathered at the funeral home to make funeral arrangements, and I remember the funeral director recommending all children stay in the front due to the severe condition of his body. My aunt’s loud ear-piercing scream brought tears to my eyes. Even though I wasn’t old enough to view the body, just from hearing the loud sobs I knew it was a sight I couldn’t stand to see. At this time in my life, I realized that anything could happen to me.

It is amazing how there are many things we take for granted. Life is one of those. We make plans for the day and don’t think twice about how they can be taken away from us in the blink of an eye. I never took the time to think about it until I was faced with the shock of my cousin’s death. My cousin’s death was an eye-opener for me. It encouraged me to make the right decisions in life because nothing in life is guaranteed. I learned that we only get one chance at life and I needed to start taking mine seriously.

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