I remember being fifteen. That’s the year when everything seems to be so important. School, friends, who got the lead part in the musical, the cute guy in geometry class, I could keep going. No one’s asking you about growing up yet. Well, they are but they’re not asking you enough to really think about it.
It’s such a strange time because you think you know it all, that the world is yours and that you practically are an adult. But you’re not paying bills, not working 8 hour shifts, not watching the news every day. You’re meant to live every day without a worry. But sometimes life doesn’t work that way.
Living in a small town meant any regular person knew everything about every other person in town. You couldn’t go anywhere without someone knowing you, and you found yourself gossiping about a person you barely knew. Everyone knew about the twelve year old girl that suffered a heart condition that killed her, or the girl in high school that lost her four year old sister to a brain tumor a few weeks later. It’s sad, but it’s just another thing to bring up talking to a friend. For me, these were both one terrible thing to happen to separate groups of people; my second sad event was losing my Aunt Marie a mere week before it happened again.
I remember not believing it. She died in an accident, people whispered. Facebook was in its heyday then, and people were flooding it with pictures and memories of her. Going to school to next day was torture; everyone was either quiet or crying. Teachers let us take the day to accept it. The wake was a few days later; a sea of black umbrellas, waiting in the rain to say their goodbyes to a young, fifteen year old girl who loved to dance.
I was fifteen. I didn’t know her well. We shared a couple classes together freshman year; we would talk about cute boys in gym class. She seemed perfectly nice, but she wasn’t a close friend, or even a friend. I had no reason to grieve the way I did. But looking back, this was the moment where I knew I had to grow up.
This was when the curtain pulled back, and I could see that the world is unforgiving. Things that can’t be explained happen, things you wouldn’t expect, and there’s no way to rewind and start over. You see, experience and live through times you will never understand. This was when my peers and I knew that we weren’t immortal, this is when we saw parents without a daughter, a brother without a sister. This was when we grew up. Everyone said, “everything comes in threes”, and it always stuck with me.
So here I am, seven years later. Three months ago I attended a funeral for my best friend’s sister, a girl I grew up with that was in the wrong place at the wrong time and died in a car accident. I had to look into the eyes of a grieving mother and father, I had to hug her sister, someone I’ve loved since I was eight. I had to kneel by the casket, saying goodbye to someone I giggled with, shared sleepovers with, hung out with at big parties. She was twenty five.
Yesterday, I found out my old neighbor died the same way. A car accident where she was not the driver. She was twenty five.
I’ve never been superstitious. But here I am, worrying myself in the middle of the night, hearing the whispers I heard when I was fifteen. Everything comes in threes. Everything comes in threes. Everything comes in threes.
My boyfriend is twenty five. I have never seen him drive over the speed limit, or do anything reckless behind the wheel. But the others weren’t driving.
I’m not superstitious. But I know that this world is unforgiving.