January 17. 2005. I remember this date seven years ago as if it were yesterday. It started out like any other day and ended like no day I had ever experienced.
I was a freshman at OBU. I was taking J-term classes, so I had already been back at school for a couple weeks. I woke up and went to class - Government with Dr. Litherland. I sat through my class, went to lunch, and went to track practice. After practice, I went back to my dorm, showered, and got ready for dinner. Very ordinary.
To finish off my ordinary day, I went to our track Bible study that evening. It was led by my friend Daniel, and I always looked forward to it. We met at his apartment every Monday night, and it was a great way to start the week. In an attempt to practice good cell phone manners, I put my phone on silent before we started the Bible study. I'm sure our study didn't last too long. I can't remember exactly. 30 minutes. An hour at the most. Little did I know that in that short amount of time my entire life would change.
After we were finished, I looked at my phone and noticed I had several missed calls from my mom and dad. It was not weird to have a missed call from my mom or dad, but it seemed like they were trying pretty desperately to get a hold of me. I also had a new voicemail, so I checked it to see what was going on. It was very short and vague...Hey, Meagan. It's Dad. Call me as soon as you can. No details, but I could sense that something was wrong.
I called my dad and from the moment he answered, I knew it wasn't just that something was wrong. I knew something really terrible had happened. The tone of his voice, the seriousness I could feel through our connection over the phone.
Hey, Dad. What's wrong? (My mind is jumping to a million conclusions at this point)
Meagan, it's Brandon (my 7-year-old cousin). He collapsed at basketball practice.
Is he ok? He's ok, isn't he? (It was one of those moments where I knew he wasn't ok, but I was just praying my dad would say, Yes, he's fine.)
No. They tried to save him, but there wasn't anything they could do. He's gone.
I stood there in shock. Things like this didn't happen. 7-year-olds don't just collapse and die at basketball practice. I was dreaming. Having a nightmare. This was too impossible to be true. It didn't make any sense.
I burst into tears. I stood outside my friend's apartment door, sobbing. Uncontrollably. I don't remember much of the rest of the conversation with my dad. He told me my cousin Amanda was coming to pick me up to bring me home. I couldn't really process anything.
I hung up the phone and walked back into my friend's apartment still sobbing. Theron met me at the door and hugged me. I hysterically explained what was going on, and Theron and I went back to a bedroom away from everyone else for a little while. I just sat there and cried still trying to process how this could be true. Theron just sat there and held me and let me cry. We had only been dating a few months, and I knew he probably thought I was absolutely crazy, but I didn't care. I couldn't do anything else but sit there and cry.
I finally pulled myself together enough to get back to my dorm room and start packing a few things, so I could go home. My cousin Amanda came, and we headed home together. I was so thankful for her. Thankful that I didn't have to drive by myself. I don't really remember much of that car ride. It is all a blur.
When we finally got home, we went to my Nannie's house where a lot of my family had gathered. It was comforting and horrifying all at the same time. I was so glad to be there with them, but it made it so much more real that he was really gone. I didn't sleep that night. I'm pretty sure I didn't really sleep for a few days. I would drift in and out, but every time I got close to real sleep, Brandon's precious face appeared in my mind.
A seemingly ordinary day, ended up changing my life forever. A matter of a few moments impacted the rest of my life. From that point forward, I begin to see the importance of each and every day of my life. If a 7-year-old could die instantly...so could I. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. I had always known this, but this experience made it so much more real.
I am so thankful for the life of Brandon Beach. In his short 7 years and 1 day (he died the day after his birthday), he taught me so much. He brought so much joy to my life. He was a natural-born athlete. Any and every sport came easily to him. I remember when he was only about 3 or 4 he didn't want to hit the baseball off the tee, he wanted you to pitch to him. He loved sports, and he loved OU. He did a great Mack Brown impression. He could tell you all of his favorite players. A lot of times, he wasn't Brandon, he was Kevin Bookout, or whoever he decided to be that day. He was competitive. I remember playing this dice game called Horse Race with him just a few weeks before he died. He wanted to win SO bad and hated to lose. He was the first little kid I got to babysit all by myself. He was my little buddy, and I loved playing with him.
Everyone just knew he had a great life ahead of him, but God had a different plan. I still don't understand why God chose to take him when he did, and I probably never will. However, I know God has a plan for my life, and I don't know how many days that life has in it. Since I don't know, I have to make the most of each and every one He decides to give me. I can't take even one for granted because I never know when it might be my last. Each one has to count.
Like I said, this whole experience changed my life. It made me value and appreciate time with my family. Now that I have a son, I realize that he is not mine. I have been given the privilege of loving him while he is here with me and entrusted with the responsibility of raising him and teaching him how to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. I have been given a sense of urgency, knowing that the people in my life, those I know well and those I don't, could be here today and gone tomorrow, so I can't waste a moment with any of them. I have a responsibility to share the Truth...that even though our lives on Earth may be short, we can spend eternity with our Father in Heaven. I am so thankful that because of my relationship with Jesus, I will get to be reunited with Brandon one day.
I was given a gift shortly after his death. God allowed me to have a dream where Brandon visited me and let me know that he was ok. Some of you may think this is crazy talk, but I know it was a gift from God. I woke up sobbing when the dream was over because he had to go, but he reassured me that everything was ok and that he was fine and that I would see him again some day.
Please remember that each day is a gift, and we are not promised tomorrow. I know I will hug my family a little tighter today and say a few extra prayers for all the blessings I've been given. I hope you will, too.