I arrived to my high school, Woodbridge College, at my usual time around 8:30 AM. I was a little nervous about the chemistry quiz I would have last period and needed to find my friend to tell her that I could pick her up tomorrow morning to go to a business competition. Except none of it matters the moment I stepped into the school building.
With a heavy and sad atmosphere, students still with their jackets on were crowding in the lobby. Not a single giggle or happy chatter could be heard. Everyone was exchanging low murmurs. I could feel the weight of the air around me, draining out my energy.
I was confused when I saw a man from CTV News holding a camera, filming a table that held a candle upon it. I saw two of my friends, silently talking to each other. I approached them and asked what was going on.
“Didn’t you hear?”
I gave my friend of over five years a blank look and shook my head.
“A girl got killed yesterday by a bus.”
When I passed by the table, I took a quick glance to see who the girl was, since she was not in my grade. I recognized the picture that was displayed in memory of her. I had always seen her around the school. Except now, I’d never see her again.
In first period class, my math teacher decided the lesson of the day was best to be taught on Monday. He gave us questions to work on and handed us back our report cards. I saw the ugly average that slapped me across the face and immediately tucked it away. From what I heard later on, the girl was a great academic student who excelled in all of her classes.
As I tried to understand how angles and radians worked, I could hear sobs of a female from outside the door. I guessed it was the girl’s cousin, whose locker was nearby. I felt bad for her loss and then tried to immerse myself into the world of logic and numbers.
When Canadian and World Issues rolled by, it was announced that Monday’s test was moved to Wednesday. For the rest of the period, the class watched Beyond the Borders starring Angelina Jolie. The movie was about a woman in the 80s, trying to help those in need within Africa. Images of bones and skins that belonged to children were too disturbing to watch. The reality of people dying across the globe because of something as simple as starvation was too much to bear. The idea of unexpectedly losing your life was much too sad. I pulled out my math from last class and used it as a distraction from all the problems in the world.
When lunch finally came, half of the school was already gone. No one dared to smile. No one dared to laugh.
Whispers trailed through the hallways. So young. Poor girl. Poor friends and family.
I was in the computer room, where a Yearbook meeting was supposed to take place. Barely any of the members showed up since all announcements were cancelled earlier. It was only my group of friends and three other classmates who occupied the room.
During the time, I checked my blog as it was a habit for me to do so every time there was a computer with internet connection in sight. I realized something as simple as going on the web, she would never do again.
A classmate called the whole gang over, saying that the accident made it to the news. We huddled into a semi-circle, watching a two minute clip on the computer as it reported this gut-wrenching story.
She was run over and pinned down by the transit bus. She was still alive. She felt intense pain as she cried for help. Witnesses couldn’t do anything because there was no way to remove her until emergency help arrived. I imagined what that was like to be in that position and it only made the knot inside my stomach worse as tears threatened to fall.
During the time I relaxed in the library for my spare, I learned that four teachers cried for her. Not only was she a smart young woman, but she was active in sport teams and had a great group of friends. She was loved by all who knew her.
Only at fifteen, her life was instantly gone in a flash. She only lived a decade and a half. There were so many more years ahead of her. So many more things she had yet to do.
I envied her. I pitied her. But deep down, I was glad I was not her.
When school finally ended with an invisible cloud hanging above it, I watched the houses and streets passed by as my father drove me home. It was a gorgeous day, but a day she never lived to see.
I was still breathing. I was still living. Everyone I love was still alive. I mentally thanked whatever ultimate force was up there for sparing my life and my loved ones.
When I ran for my daily exercise on the treadmill, I wondered: How did her parents find out? Were her last days happy ones? Would she have lived if she didn’t cross the street at that exact moment?
Questions filled my mind but it was too depressing to explore the idea of death any further. I pushed it to the back of my brain and moved my legs as fast as I could.
Let this be a lesson for us all: Don’t take life for granted. Create happy memories. Let go of grudges. Live every day like it is your last.
R.I.P. Catherine Tran (12/11/09)
To see the full report and watch the news, go to: http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20091112/fatals_gta_091112/20091112/?hub=TorontoNewHome