I was officially an adult three years ago. Somehow, that knowledge only reared its head yesterday.
Three years ago, I turned eighteen. Got a job. Made a savings account. Thought long and hard about college (I know. A little late.) Wove dreams and spun fairy tales.
But yesterday…yesterday, I turned twenty-one. If eighteen is the age of responsibility, of becoming an adult, then twenty-one is the chance to blow it all in a whirl of gaiety. The responsibility is still there. Now I am just supposed to be responsible with a head clouded by alcohol.
As if adulthood wasn’t hard enough. Is it just me, or are we setting ourselves up for failure? I’m not necessarily saying that drinking a beer is wrong. Some people seem to have no problem with that.
But for me? Knowing myself as I do – it would be dead wrong. Perhaps literally. I am an all-or-nothing sort of girl. If I am on a diet, salad and carrot sticks will be eaten. If I am not – NO salad or carrot sticks will be eaten. None. Zilch. My room is either fanatically clean, or eyeblindingly atrocious. There is no in between for me.
So drinking beer – knowing my track record for the past twenty-one years – would be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. And there have been plenty.
That’s one of my reasons for never touching alcohol – I don’t trust myself. If I can’t control my actions with a clear head, what chance do I have with an inebriated one?
But there’s another reason. One that rests close to my heart on a daily basis. I have many cousins, who I am blessed to call family by birth, but friends by choice. They have enriched my life in so many ways and have filled my life with laughter and joy.
But two are missing. Once upon a time, when our family was complete, my uncle was driving home from a date with his wife. I believe he dropped her off, then went to pick up his oldest three children from the babysitter. Driving home, he relished the laughter of his children. The reminiscing of a fun night. The jokes made at the other two’s expense. Without warning, two headlights cut into his line of vision, swerving crazily back and forth, and then suddenly…they were off the road.
Two of our family died that day. A little girl. She was only six, with green eyes, that she claimed could see in the dark like a cat. Best friend to her little five year old brother. Digger, they called him. Brown eyes. Precocious.
Gone. Without warning. Because of a choice. Our family struggled through the typical (though how could you call it typical?) gamut of emotions. There were times of extreme anger, of pain, of overwhelming sorrow, but most of all, unceasing questions.
Why? How could you choose to be so irresponsible? How can your life go on when ours’ did not? Do you even stinkin’ care?
I was only 11. But I still remember the funeral. Tiny white caskets at the front of the church seemed almost incongruous in a place that had held only happy memories for us before. Songs were sung. All the right words were said.
But then…something was said that changed my life forever. I don’t even remember if it was said at the funeral or not, though this underlying emotion was certainly there. I just remember my uncle expressing this thought.
“I want to be angry. I am angry. I want to know why such a thing happened to a family that loves God and was trying to follow Him. But I know everything happens for a purpose…and I choose to forgive the man who killed my kids.”
Forgiveness. Undeserved. Maybe even unwanted. But offered nonetheless.
However, though we as a family have chosen to forgive, we still live with the consequences of a solitary action, and we will for the rest of our lives.
I never want to have to ask for that same forgiveness. Ever.