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Four Years at the Mount

Senior year

Do you believe in miracles?

Katie Powell
MSM Class of 2015

(10/2015) Second chances are miracles. I sincerely believe that to be true. Perhaps you are asking yourself, what in the world I could possibly be talking about, viewing second chances as miracles. It is probably because we are looking at second chances from different angles.

Well, allow me to explain.

I am approaching this topic in a much more philosophical way on purpose. Generally, we think of second chances as something that we grant or receive from other people, and that is fine and completely correct. However, I am thinking about this more from a supernatural point of view, more of a second chance at something major, even a second chance at life.

Whether you believe in God, ghosts, the cosmos, guardian angels or whatever, I can almost guarantee you, that you have had moments of some kind of supernatural intervention. These are moments where you think, "I donít know how I survived that," "I donít know how I did that," or even, "that was a miracle." I think someone is looking over you and decides, not yet, or, not like this.

I guess there is the possibility that I have lost you and we are no longer on the same page, and I get that. I will tell you a little story to get the point across:

I was the most typical 17-year-old over-achieving (more like over-reaching) student ever. Five AP classes, swimming 21 hours a week, up until midnight, doing homework and up at 4:30 for practice. No, I would sneer at others, I am not in too deep, and I donít need your help. Thanks, though. I was determined to succeed, and I might have actually been successful if I had simply asked for help.

January 2012 brought me the wakeup call that I, for one, did not want, and two, did not think I needed. That morning, I woke up at 4:30 for a 5 AM swim, stumbled into my car and sped down the road. It was dark, rainy, and I was late. I was mad at myself for over sleeping, knowing there would be repercussions from my coach, the embodiment of Not-a-morning-person.

So, I flew around corners, hydroplaned, and wrapped my car around a tree. Oops. I wacked my head on the window and spent the next month recovering from a concussion and a fear of rain.

You are probably thinking that I had it coming, that I learned my lesson, and that the story ends here. Well, if you knew 17-year-old Katie, you know that is not how it went down. The insurance company representative told my mom I should have died while inspecting my car. All that told me was that I was lucky. What it really meant was that someone was looking out for me, and it would take a few months to set in what this second chance really meant.

April 2012 brought a similar tale with a much different ending. I recovered from my accident having learned nothing and harvesting anger at those in my life that this car accident ever happened, naturally blaming everyone except myself. Enter Nikki, a beautiful, talented, friendly girl in my senior class. She had everything going for her. We were not friends, we had a class together, but I did not know it until it was too late. Nikki was in a car accident involving reckless driving. Nikki was crushed in the back seat and did not survive.

The connection was unclear to me until the day after her accident, as my best friend sobbed over Nikki and dug her nails into my arm, leaving deep red marks, repeating over and over, it could have been you.

Nikki had been in my seventh period math class. I had no idea. This beautiful, intelligent, sweet young girl lost her life. I sat there in class feeling ignorant to the point of nausea as it finally did occur to me that it easily could have been me that my seventh period math class mourned over, four months earlier. Would I have deserved it? Looking around the room, I recognized very few tear-streaked faces as people I had liked, and even fewer that I had been nice to. Would they cry for me? Would they know who I was?

Something out there had decided that January 2012 was not my time. Something out there had decided that April 2012 was Nikkiís time. And it made me sick to my stomach to realize that I had been given a second chance and it took me four months and the death of a classmate to figure that out. How messed up is that? How consumed with my situation and myself had I been, harvesting anger over a car accident that I had survived? This was my second chance. And so far I had spent it being resentful.

Not a week goes by now that I do not think of Nikki. In my high school, we have long associated the dead with butterflies. I see one, and her name flits through my head as the butterflyís beautiful wings carry it higher into the sky, and I remember how truly precious second chances are.

I recognize my story is a dramatic example, however, I think as a culture we often feel entitled to second chances. How dare my professor not let me retake that test, we think, or Come on, I lied one time! What we all need to do is look inside ourselves and determine if we really do deserve a second chance. Almost always we think we do. Almost always we are wrong. We blame our mistakes on those around us. Second chances are an opportunity to do better, to be better, and as a culture we need to recognize that those we are given are miracles, and that even those we are not given are lessons.

Read other articles by Katie Powell