Before my second camp experience in the summer of 2011, I went on a vacation with my friend named Justin. On the way back down from the thumb of Michigan, as we were driving along the highway, this grayish silver car, with rusty fenders and a smashed driver’s door, swerved across the lane and hit us head-on. The airbags went off. Everythingwas a blur. I was in the backseat. My head swung forward and hit the front seat that Justin was sitting in at the time of the accident. The car flipped over and the three of us were just hanging there, upside down in our seatbelts. Justin and his mom were unconscious and bleeding from head to toe. I started to tear up. I could feel the tears dripping out from my eye lid, and when the first drop came down, it felt like slow motion.
I heard a little voice from Justin’s mom saying “It’s okay, sweetheart.” Then she went limp. Right there I knew she had passed away.
I tried to say “Justin...” but all I heard was a voice choking on blood. I tried again, but blood was dripping out of my mouth. I coughed out my own blood and then I yelled, “Justin! Are you OK?” but all I heard was my voice cracking.
Suddenly Justin grabbed his stomach, gagged and puked everywhere. He undid his seatbelt and he fell to the roof of the car. We heard sirens coming in the distance. Next thing we knew the Jaws of Life were cutting the red door off the minivan.
The fireman yelled, “ There’s somebody in here!” Then they undid my seat belt and they pulled the three of us out of the totaled lava red minivan. Down the road we saw the silverish (now dirt-colored) car burning on its side in the ditch down the road, where pump trucks were hosing it down. On the way to the hospital, Justin was limp and bleeding out, badly. They put me and Justin in different ambulances on the way to the hospital.
I got a really bad concussion in the accident. The doctors told me I should never play sports again. They told us that Justin was going to be in serious condition and he might not make it. He was going to be paralyzed for the rest of his life. Justin had broken both his legs and they would never heal because of his broken back. There was an awkward silence.
I never made it to camp that summer. My family and I went to Justin's funeral when he died in a train accident later that year. He had died on his birthday. From that day forward I never took life for granted.
* * *
I made it to camp in 2012. It was a fun, untragic experience. The third time at camp, in 2013, I went with my friend Joe. They had changed some rules. Now they had a dance. I had to find a date for the dance, but since I love to play basketball, inspite of the doctors recommendations because of my concussion, I was on the court most of the time.
Suddenly a girl walked onto the court and swished a shot and I thought, Damn women, always taking myshots.Suddenly in the corner of my eye, I saw her face and she, God, she was beautiful! But I didn’t have the guts to ask her to the dance. She came over and made a perfect three pointer. That was hot. She looked back over at me and winked. I stuttered, and pretended to look the other way. Oh God, snap out of it!I thought. She was so beautiful; I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. She walked off and I just stood there, rubbing the back of my head and smiling awkwardly. That moment I knew she was mine.
* * *
A couple of days later I caught up to her and asked her if she would go to the dance with me.
“ Hi my name is Troy. What is your’s?”
“ Mine is Emme. So what are you doing?”
“ Playing basketball… well, I came over here to ask you to the dance…”
“ I would,but I can’t.”
“ Why? I really, really like you though.”
“ I know I can see it in your eyes.”
“ Really you can? But how?”
“ Remember at the basketball court when I made that three ? You just started staring at me.”
“ No, really, I didn’t not do that.I’mnot a perv.”
“ Well,you can think that if you want to.”
“ Fine, I will….”
“ What do you really want?”
“ I really want you to come to the dance with me, please. Can you just give me one chance?”
“ Fine,but one chance. If you screw it up, we’re done ok ?”
“ Okay, see you later.”
That night was the dance. It was the best time of my life because, that one dance I got with her was the best dance I could ask for. She and I were like peanut butter and jelly, birds and the bees, ice and water, and bread and butter. I was thinking about asking a big question if she would go out with me, but I didn’t have the guts to, until I asked myself what would my mom do and she would do so I did.
“ Hey, can I talk to you for a second?”
“ Sure why?”
“ Well, I had this great time at the dance and I just wanted to know if you would like to go out with me?... Please”
“ Um… Yes, maybe, no, yes.”
“ Yes, I will go out with you.”
“ Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
“ Okay, now stop.”
“ Okay, I’ll try.”
We left camp, and just as two summers before, I was riding home in a lava red minivan. We were hit by what looked like the same grayish car and flipped over. Just as before, we hung upside down and this time, Joe’s mom died.
Then the fire truck came and went though the exact same procedure. The Jaws of Life cut us out and the grayish car burned. We went to the hospital in separate ambulances. Unfortunately, I got another concussion. The doctors told me again that I shouldn't play sports, but again I didn’t listen. Even more tragic, Joe was crippled for life. He died in plane crash later that year. It was on his birthday.
We went to his funeral. I walked up to the casket and said my goodbyes to my best friend. I told him what I loved about him most. How he has changed my life in ways you will never know. I even told him my favorite moment that we had with each other and I’ll tell you. Way back then in 4th grade the first day of school, he was the new kid from another school. I walked up to him told him my name, he told me his, then he said, “ You wanna be friends?”
“ Sure you seem pretty cool,” I answered. Then we became instant friends and then we built up our friendship up. Ever since we used to call each other brother from another mother and I will remember that till the day I die.
I placed this watch right next to his hip in the coffin. He got me that watch on my tenth birthday, so now he would have a piece of me forever. I walked away from that coffin balling my eyes out that was the most saddest moment of my life.
Later that day I knew that he would not want me to keep grieving about this. He wanted me to move on with my life. It was a tough thing to swallow, but you sometimes have to do something you don’t want to do. I cried for hours. Later that day, my mom came into my room. She saw how sad I was, then she told me, “ It’s okay, if you need anything else I’m in my room.”
Joe always use to tell me, “The greatest pleasure in life is doing something that people say you couldn’t do.” So that’s what I gotta do and I did. The only person who made me happy was Emme. She was the light of my life. She was the only person I could talk to about my feelings, so I decided to call her.
“ I need to talk to you. I’m really sad and you’re the only person who can make me happy.”
“ Well… what?”
“ I’m breaking up with you.”
“ We don’t see each other anymore anyway. I live in White Pine, MI. and you live in Ann Arbor, so it’s impossible for us too see each other.”
“ But I love you…”
“ I love you too. But this is the only way for both of us to be happy.”
“ Okay, I guess this is goodbye?”
“ For now...”