Last night as I worked the graveyard shift at a job that I hate on New Year's Eve, I couldn't help but reflect on my life, as we often do when a new year comes around.
I thought of all the opportunities I had turned down or messed up in some way, and thought over all of the choices I'd made throughout my life so far. My thoughts also turned to an old school friend who had just passed away days before Christmas.
Her name was Amelia, and she was a high achiever right from the start. I remember competing with her all the way through primary school. There was no way I stood a chance at beating her in sport. She would naturally win every race, crossing the finishing line way before anyone else even came near it. I would normally come in third place. And she would always hog the ace square in handball at recess and lunch because she was just too good to beat! But academically I'd say we were quite equal. Some things she may have excelled in a little more and vice versa.
I wouldn't say that we were good friends, and we weren't enemies either. We didn't always see eye to eye, we challenged each other a lot, but we generally got along. I guess you could say that I respected her, and perhaps she also respected me. Now when I think about it, Amelia was one of the driving forces that pushed me to succeed in school. I had to beat her at something!
Well, Amelia achieved the honored position of school captain in our last year of primary school, and that pretty much said it all. She'd won.
As our final year pushed further toward the end, a few handpicked students in our class were chosen to take the test and apply for a selective high school. Of course Amelia and I were of that group. I remember hearing whisperings of other kids saying that Amelia would definitely get in, and I'm sure she had confidence in herself that she would. It was a nerve wrecking exam, and to be honest I didn't even really know why I accepted and went ahead with the test, as I'd already vowed to go to the same high school as my best friend Erin, who I'd been joined to the hip with since we were 4 years old. I guess once again I just wanted to prove myself worthy. I didn't think that I would be affecting anyone.
The results came in one day and those who had been accepted into selective schools were announced. I got in! But Amelia, who had all of her high hopes pinned on being accepted, wasn't. She was devastated. Then when the final decision about which schools we had chosen to attend had been made and announced, and I had turned down the selective school, Amelia was mortified. Whisperings went around the school once again, this time they were saying that Amelia felt that if I didn't intend on going to the selective school, then I shouldn't have sat the test, and she would have gotten a place. I think I may have confronted her about this, and we had words. This is one of my last memories of Amelia.
Years and years had gone by, Facebook came about and Amelia and I friended each other. She was now a lawyer, and I was a single mum with no education.
A few days before the Christmas just gone Amelia lost her life after suffering from a severe Epileptic seizure at the age of 31yrs old. Even though we had been friends on Facebook for a few years now, we hadn't really spoken. And now I look through her photos and see all that she has achieved. Pictures of Amelia standing before the Eiffel Tower, smiling a big accomplished grin alongside her soccer team, on a bridge overlooking Vienna, bush walking in Croatia! She was really living! My mum bumped into Amelia's mum the day after she had passed and her mum said that she had just put a deposit on a house, and she was so very happy. She was also planning a trip to Fiji with her little sister.
As I tried to keep my eyes open at 4am in this job that makes me miserable, but it's really all I can do without any decent qualifications, I wondered how it could be that someone like Amelia could lose her life so young, when she was doing everything right, and enjoying her life! I still haven't set foot overseas, I don't earn very much money at all, and I spent my entire 20's raising a little baby. My daughter is really my only accomplishment, and I haven't been able to offer her anything much more than my love.
Last night I felt bad about the memory of stealing away Amelia's opportunity to go to a selective school, something she strived so hard for, and I didn't think much of. I know I shouldn't feel too bad, I was just a kid after all. But it got me to thinking, and what I came up with was this...
I would like to pay Amelia back for upsetting her. And once again she is making me feel the urge to aim higher and achieve. I would like to make a promise to her even though she has passed. I will prove to her that I will make the most of my time here from now on, and no longer pity myself. She deserved the spot at that school, and she deserves to still be alive! But I got that spot, I gave it up, and here I am alive, but not really enjoying my life and living to my full potential.
I am reminded of how precious life is, and how quickly it can be taken away. I don't want to waste one more day. So, here is to my friend from school who made such an impression on me all of those years ago, and still does.