Nine years ago today, I failingly fought a fire that eventually destroyed my college home of two years. The battle ended when my roommate, teammate, and one of my closest friends, Elea (who is half my size) grabbed me and basically threw me out of the burning house. This led to an oxygen party in the back of an ambulance with our other roommates and teammates, Michelle and Coty. We were probably all still in shock, but were actually able to smile and laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation as we passed around the O2 mask.
The memory of that night still plays so vividly in my mind. Thankfully, I had no serious injuries, but was forced to stay overnight in the hospital. I didn’t spend a minute alone as teammates, coaches, and friends poured in at all hours, sitting with me and just making sure I was okay.
My roommates and I lost nearly everything in the fire, save for a few items salvaged from the soot and ash. Never has one single event in my life dramatically shown me the power of the human spirit and importance of community. The support we received from the University of Virginia, our family, friends, teammates, and complete strangers was humbling, if not overwhelming at times. To say my life and perspective on what is important to me changed after that night, is quite the understatement.
Nine years later, I can still recall the claustrophobic feeling of being surrounded by flames and the extreme intensity of the heat on my body. Of greater impact, I have not forgotten all of the wonderful people who demonstrated true generosity and were there for me when I most needed it. I’ll also remember watching on the television from my hospital bed that night as UVA took down Duke in OT with a last second jumper courtesy of Sean Singletary. Wahoowa. It’s the little things, you know?
There are a handful of events in your life that will have significant impact; hopefully most will change or affect you in a positive way, but it’s up to you to make that decision.
If you take anything away from this, it’s to spend some time and think about what is truly important to you and to acknowledge the great people in your life. Quit stressing over stuff that really doesn’t matter. Hug your parents and call an old friend. Your life can and will change in an instant. How will you react?
Oh, and buy a fire extinguisher.