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Thursday, September 19, 2013

The "what ifs" of life

Dedicated to Frank Vito
(R.J. second in top left, Frank top right)
Recently, I’ve had a few friends tell me about when they were younger they lost a friend in an accident and somehow they feel they are responsible for their death. They know they ultimately aren’t responsible, but if only they didn’t tell the person something before they were killed or if only they told them to do something different they wouldn’t have died.
Even though I have never lost a friend this way, I have seen what it does and how it affects a person. My brother, R.J., was 29 years old when he lost his best friend, Frank. His friend was killed riding his motorcycle. An older man pulled right out from a stop sign and broadsided Frank. He was killed almost instantly. Frank,44, was like a brother to my brother and my family thought of him as part of our family. It was devastating on everyone, but especially my brother.
The night Frank was killed, he was going to meet my brother and his wife for a special dinner. They were going to tell him the sex of their first child. He was going to be the godfather. It was going to be a celebration. Before Frank left to go to the dinner, he called my brother and asked him what vehicle he should drive. Should he take his truck or his brand new Harley Nitrane? It was a beautiful night out, so my brother told him to take the Harley. Frank never showed up for the dinner and my brother got a call to go to the hospital.
My brother for years, kept replaying the “what if” question in his mind over and over. What if I would have just told him to take the truck, he would still be alive. I saw how much my brother hurt because his friend had died.
There are so many “what ifs.” We all have them. Every day we could have done something different or said something different. Do you ever pass an accident on the side of the road and think, I could have been in that accident, if I was a few minutes earlier. But, that morning my child right before we were about to leave had to use the bathroom and I had gotten mad because now we are running a few minutes late.
It doesn’t do us any good though to keep playing the scenarios over and over. We can’t change what happens. I think sometimes there’s just no good reason why someone dies accidently and at a young age and we have to have some reason for it so we think “what if.”
Sometimes we just have to live with what happens and try and make the best of the situation even though it can be hard. If we beat ourselves up, it’s not going to do any good. 
My brother told me what’s helped him is his faith in God. He also said a 2002 movie "Time Machine," he turned to one day on television really made it sink in that no matter what it was going to happen. In the movie the main character Dr. Alexander Hartdegen’s sweetheart is killed by a mugger. Hartdegen builds a time machine, so he can prevent the mugger from killing his girl, but she dies by getting run over by a horse and buggy. He travels back in time several times trying to prevent her from getting killed and each time she always ends up dying just a different way. My brother says even though it’s just a movie, it helped him realize Frank was going to die and it didn’t matter what vehicle he told him to take.
It’s been ten years since Frank passed away, and we are all still heartbroken, but my brother realizes he didn’t do anything wrong. My brother named his first child after his best friend. Her name is Frankee.

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