Sunday, May 29, 2011

9th grade: The day before State

I remember 9th grade fondly. Here I was: a co-captain of my freshman cheer squad, a cheerleader at a national champion cheer club {you can laugh to yourself, it’s okay}, sitting with all the football players at lunch (they were even my close friends and great friends at that), getting straight A’s in advanced classes, great group of fun girl friends who would be there through anything, with a wonderful and supportive family. Ninth grade looked like a phenomenal year and anyone looking at it from the outside would probably think I had it all.

But there is one day I will never forget that has changed me forever. It has changed the way I treat relationships, the way I view my family, the way I deal with a crisis, the way I share about my emotions.

It was the day before the state cheer competition—both of my squads were competing. {I hesitate to mention cheer for fear of not being taken seriously, but just go with me.} I hopped in my mom’s car after our last practice at AZ Heat (the club cheer) and we headed to my next practice for my freshman cheer squad. This was the first year our Jr. high had ever competed in a competition. My squad had worked SO hard to put together a stellar, competitive routine. Point being: this was a big deal and a highly stressful time. I casually picked up my phone to check a voicemail from my best friend thinking it was concerning our upcoming cheer practice. I was focused on the state competition ahead and could not wait to see how all our hard work paid off.

The voicemail began and I couldn’t understand her. She was crying and shaky and I listened to it 3 times before deciphering what she said. I can still visualize that exact moment 8 years later.

Bottom line, one of our guy friends had committed suicide. One of the most friendly, intelligent, happy, loving guys I had ever met was gone. And let me tell you—I don’t use “most friendly” or “happy” lightly in a “that’s what you say about people who died” kind of way. He is still hands-down one of the friendliest and happiest guys I have ever known.

My mind was blown. I had to pull it together for the next two days because I was responsible for rallying my jr. high cheer squad to do our BEST performance at state. It was my idea for us to compete, so the competition weighed heavily on me. I also had to somehow land a standing back flip for my club cheer squad that I had yet to land in practice. Endless hours of practice had gone in to these next 2 days. These things seemed so petty with this glaring news, but some things just have to be done. Life couldn’t stop. Life couldn’t pause and people were counting on me.

I have never truly shared how this day or event has changed my life. {And yes, my life was changed more than just the stress of making it through a state cheer competition.} I plan to share a least one {if not two} more posts about this life-changing and life-giving event. Thanks for joining me as I unpack this event that is still difficult to talk about.

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