In Our Shoes: Death of teammate sparks introspection, appreciation of life

When asked to give words of wisdom, people often say “Live life to the fullest” or “Each time you fall, just get back up” or “Hardships make us strong.” I never really took any of these clichéd sayings seriously because I thought they were just that —cliché.

But looking back on the events of the past month, the only things that come to mind when I try to think of what I have learned are these short adages.

On Wednesday, Feb. 23, one of my friends, a teammate from crew, passed away. My first reaction was shock, then anger, then confusion, and then sadness. That morning I had lost a teammate, a friend, and a sister.

To lose someone so smart, so courageous, so strong, so silly, and so good just didn’t seem right. It didn’t make sense. A girl who was only 17 years old couldn’t get sick and die when she had been healthy enough to come to practice only a month earlier.

The strong bond of my team has held us together and we’ve supported each other throughout this time. We couldn’t look to each other for answers as to why she had died, but we could look to each other for a reason to keep living our lives as normal.

Together, we could look past the hurt and anger and sadness of her death, and remember the memories that she gave us. It was perhaps her passion for life that has had the most lasting effect on us. Everyday she reminded us that life is full of moments and it is up to us to make each one matter.

And for the moments that she had with us, she did just that. Her strength physically and emotionally held our team together and pushed us to go farther than we believed we could go.

Her death taught us that each instant, each relationship, each journey in life really does count. Nothing will ever be justifiable for her death, but it is possible to find meaning from lessons that her life brought us.

She was the kind of person that had a personal, truly deep relationship with everyone she knew. And I know that everyone she touched learned something from her, and that no one who met her will ever forget her.

She had an ability to bring intensity and determination into anything she did, but at the same time remember, and remind others, that life is worth enjoying.

So maybe those gimmicky quotes really do teach us something. But it shouldn’t take a tragedy to start living by them and understanding them. Life really is short, and it is up to us to make it matter, to touch the lives of the people around us, and make a difference.

Practice will never be the same without her, but she will always be with us in the boat, urging us to go harder, to live in the moment.

She gave me my team another reason to race our hardest. We have to win for Roshney.