Life After Death
Silence. Shock. Disbelief. Tears. Maroon and white. Then abruptly, red and blue flashing lights. Sirens. Those were the sights and sounds of September 15, 2006, at Tigerland Stadium. I became an entirely different person on that unforgettable night.
The biggest game in Texas high school football was being played between the A&M Consolidated High School Tigers and the Austin Westlake Chaparrals on September 15th. Both teams were state-ranked in the top ten, and both were considered football powerhouses in the state. The first quarter went extremely well; we scored first. Then Westlake scored, which made it 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. Regrettably, fourteen points are all that would ever be scored in that match-up. The clock stopped with 10 minutes and 25 seconds left in the second quarter. Matt Nader, an offensive lineman from Westlake, ran off the field after a play and collapsed. I stood in awe, and the stands fell silent when after a few minutes, Matt did not get up. By this time both teams were on the field huddling with each other, praying for Matt’s health. No one knew what was happening. As an athletic trainer, I wanted to know what was going on as well and what they were doing to him. I could not find out because all the medical staff was on their sideline. Word got around that an Automated External Defibrillator saved his life. Once the paramedics got Matt’s heart beating again, he was taken to a local hospital where parents from both schools went to offer their prayers. Once the ambulance left, superintendents and head coaches from both schools met at midfield and decided to cancel the game. I thought to myself, “Ok, that is nice of them; I get to go home early.” Unfortunately, that was not the case; in fact the worst was yet to come.
One of my friends in the stands motioned for me to go toward her. Of course I went, figuring she was asking me about Matt’s condition. The conversation that followed is still vivid in my mind:
“Kassie, did you hear about Ed?”
“No, what about him?”
“He died earlier today in a car wreck on Highway 6.”
“I’ve had enough bad news today; stop joking.” I said with dismay.
“No really, he died; it’s been going around the stands.” She assured me it was true.
I fell silent as Jackie asked me if I was going to be okay. I stood in front of her with consternation. I did not want to believe that my neighbor, my good friend, and one of the guys I helped out during football season was dead. Looking over to the field house, I saw the boys in a huddle and our head coach, Coach Slaughter, talking to them, giving them the terrible news. Heading toward the field house, I saw my best friend’s mom. I questioned the news and asked her why this would happen. She consoled me and reassured me that everything happens for a reason. I was astonished because I never thought something like this, losing a beloved friend and student, would happen to me or to our community. A precious life was taken from a loving family, a loving team, and loving friends. Everyone that knew Ed adored him and loved him. He was a hard-worker and dedicated to everything he did. Ed was the type of guy who befriended everyone. Ed showed new students around school for the counselor’s office. Ed welcomed them into Consol with his friendly smile and laid-back attitude. Hard-working is often used to describe Ed, because that is exactly what he was. Everything Ed did, he did with a smile and his whole heart. Ed was just an overall great guy.
When I found my mom, I started hugging her and told her that I could not believe this was happening. I said I had to go see Mr. and Mrs. King, to offer my condolences. After I hugged my best friend, her mom, and some of the football players, I went with my family to the King’s home. I gave Mr. King a huge hug, and I saw the face of a strong man. He did not shed a tear, but instead he acted as Mrs. King’s rock and foundation. After giving him a hug, I went to Mrs. King’s room. She was distraught and disoriented. She knew who I was, but I could tell she still did not believe that her son had died. The house filled up with people coming over to give their condolences, and I was touched by the fact that so many people went to see Ed’s family.
This outpouring of love to the Kings made me realize how precious life is and that many people take it for granted. No longer did I want to take my life for granted, but Ed’s death taught me to live it to the fullest. The moment I found out Ed died, a feeling rushed over me of how precious life is. I wanted to take my time on Earth as a gift and understand that tomorrow is not promised. Ed’s death showed me how I need to live out my life. The events of September 15, 2006, changed who I was and made me who I am today.
reading a magazine at the store so you don't have to buy it. babysitting. bonfires. scarves. procrastinating.