I’m not really sure what to say at the moment. I didn’t know Matt Gabriel, but like everyone else, I was distraught about his death. It reminds me that some of the smaller things in life – a test grade, an essay, movie spoilers, slow Internet– aren’t as big of an issue as they seem.
Three days after Matt’s death, my Nana died. It was a peaceful death. She passed in her sleep. Still, the knowledge that she didn’t suffer doesn’t make it any easier.
As college students, it seems as though we have our whole lives ahead of us – like our future is a big empty slate just waiting to be filled. Matt’s death reminds us that we don’t always get to fill it. I think that’s why the deaths of those who die young hurt. There’s so much room for them to grow, and so much potential for the person they can be. We see ourselves as immortal because we cannot imagine dying before we have the chance to make a difference in the world.
When somebody who has lived a full life dies, we weep because there is an empty hole in the world. My Nana used to be a teacher. She affected two generations of students instilling in them a love of learning.She was a great woman who enjoyed the simpler thing in life: a good book, good food, and good times with family.
These aren’t my first experiences with the death; I had a friend die from cancer when I was in middle school. I had only known him a few months and I knew he was sick, but knowing somebody is going die doesn’t help the pain either. There’s still the sting and pain of loss.
I know this column is to document the struggles of being a college student, intertwined with humorous self-deprecating comments about my lack of social life, but it doesn’t seem appropriate to talk about either of those. And right now, the loss of these two people is important in my life. These two people are now gone forever, and the only true thing that remains are the memories we have of them. I just want to tell those of you still mourning that you are not alone. It’s okay to cry, even if you didn’t know him very well. It means you are human.
That’s the most important thing to note: we are human. We are born, we live for a while, maybe fall in love and have children, and eventually, we die. Some people live longer than others, and we have no way of knowing who those people are going to be. We just don’t. No matter how advanced human society becomes, it’ll be impossible to determine just how long somebody will live. We can strive to live as long as possible by eating healthy and exercising, but we can’t predict what will happen when we cross a street. We may cross safely, but sometimes we don’t.
As the year is closing, and with this being my penultimate column for this year, I would like to say: College is not the defining years of your life. College does not determine how successful you’ll be. College is just another chapter in your life.Still, you should still enjoy the time you spend here.
My heart goes out to Matt’s family, and I can only hope that his memory will live on for a long time. My heart also goes out to my own family. Hopefully my Nana Judy’s memory will also live on. For both of them, I hope people’s memories of them are good, and inspire some sort of positive change in the world.