In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, from work to school to sports to music lessons, it is so easy to lose sight of what’s really important. In doing so, it is too easy to take for granted what you have been blessed with in life. I am, without question, oftentimes guilty of this myself. Not returning a missed call from a relative or answering a text from a high school friend because it’s late and I have a biology lab to finish and a chemistry exam to study for...this is something I’ve been guilty of more than one time over the course of the last semester. However, on Friday I was reminded in a very harsh way that the things and people that mean the most to you should not be taken for granted. I had just completed my final calculus exam and was rejoicing with a fellow classmate about the fact that we were finished with our most difficult class of the semester. As we walked into the dining hall and sat to enjoy our lunch, continuing on with our happy chatter about winter plans, another friend, who was wearing a somber expression, sat down to join us. At the first pause in our conversation, he asked quietly, “did you hear about the shooting?" Taken aback, both of us just looked at him, mouths agape, making sure we heard him correctly. “Yeah…this morning in Newtown, Connecticut at an elementary school.” After that, the conversation virtually subsided except for the occasional “how could anyone shoot innocent children?” After the quiet meal, I proceeded up to my room to finish reviewing for my chemistry exam the following day and tune into one of the many local news stations that were reporting on the tragic incident. For the next few hours, the realness of what had happened began to sink in. Of course in the past few years when tragic events happened across the country, I was interested to hear about them and saddened for the people whose lives were immediately affected by the incidents. However, attending the University of Connecticut, many of my closest friends that I’ve made in the past three months are residents of Connecticut and many had direct connections with Newtown and the people that live there. To name a few, a good friend of mine tutors young children from Newtown and surrounding areas and another girl that lives on my floor has lived in the town since middle school. Not only hearing about the event, but seeing first-hand the direct effects of tragedies such as this was a true reminder to me to cherish what you’ve been given. I’ve been reminded to never take anything for granted and make sure to make it clear when you appreciate someone because you may not always have the opportunity to do so. Furthermore, I’ve been reminded to not only do this during the holiday season, but during the entire year. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and safe holiday season and sending my blessings to those who have been affected by the Newtown tragedy.
Stephanie Brady is a college freshman at the University of Connecticut in Storrs-Mansfield, Connecticut majoring in pre-pharmacy. Originally from New Market, New Hampshire, Stephanie was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Hampshire for 2012. Learn more about Stephanie here!