Bonfire: 15 Years

At approximately 2:42 a.m. on November 18, 1999, the 59-foot high stack, consisting of about 5000 logs, collapsed during construction. Of the 58 students and former students working on the stack, 12 were killed and 27 were injured. Left in the wake is my heart and soul, forever marred by the events of that morning and the days and weeks that followed.

That’s how this post started last year. While I still mourn for the family of those lost, I have spent much of this year adjusting to what life has blessed me with – a marriage, a partner, a new home, a new schedule, new friends, new everything. It’s been a transition.

Change and adjustment don’t always come easily – and less so for someone like me who truly wants to feel settled and at peace. To find quiet amongst the chaos of what our life has been over the past three months. To remember the simplicities of going shopping and cooking a meal and not being rushed to the next event or making sure I get to see my husband for more than five minutes of half awake conversation.

Then I stop and remember days like today. Where someone’s not doing these simple things not because they are too busy or overwhelmed, but because their life was cut short. How selfish I am to not consider my life blessed despite the unruly mess it’s in right now.

There have been a few periods this year, where for some reason or another, I challenged myself to be different. Because I felt I had to be to fit into my new life. I had to quiet my happiness. my character. my inner voice. my enthusiasm.

What I realized, in doing so, is that I struggled. I am me. And I’m the only me out there. and if I silence that, I’m only hurting myself. I’m cutting my own life short because I’m not living my life. I’m living the one that others strong arm me into. and that, my readers, is not okay.

So today, with heavy heart and full soul, I implore those of us still here to consider the following. Not because I’m trying to write some motivational speech, but because 12 students left this earth too soon, and in their honor, we need to live fuller to make up for where they left off.

Live Big. Without regret. You only get one chance. You never know when it’s all over. Do not lose energy or spirit in pursuit of your own happiness.

Dance. Dance and scream and jump and yell and enjoy the heck out of every moment you get a smidgen of a chance to experience. You will never get it back. To hide amongst the shadows in fear of judgment only gives someone else the control.

Do not ever forget: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” You are. You own it. Every single day you get up and you own it.

You are not only young once. You are young every day. Never let the tradition of what you “should” be, get in the way of what you are.

Nothing is impossible if you are willing. NOTHING. No one. No thing. No entity. Get out of your own way and accomplish whatever you’d like. If you have a dream, achieve it, do it, go for it. You are as successful as you believe you are.

There are people in life who are going to tell you can’t. Turn around and tell them WATCH ME. Silence the voices of naysayers and surround yourself with the support that you need. Even if that means is only you.

One chance. Once. Only. That’s it. And we’re done. Leave your mark on the world so large, so full of good, so well-meant, be a good citizen, be service to the needy, step outside your boundaries to make the world a better place by your existence in it.

Goodness cannot be bought, it doesn’t come instantaneously. It is earned with time and effort. Put effort only into those things that better yourself and the world. Sinister acts only mar the great works of yourself and others. Pay no mind to them.

Be your own billboard. Speak out. Be spirited. Take action. Progress never came from apathy.

Making mistakes means you learned something, being perfect means you got it right. Both are completely acceptable outcomes at all times.

Remember every day that you are amazing. You start out that way. Keep it all day. all week. all year. forever. You control your happiness. Don’t give anyone else the helm.

I will never forget. I will never let it go. I will never forget that spirit.  We are the Aggies. The Aggies are we. Nov 18, 1999. You are missed, my heart is with you, Here.


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