Life Is Short

Life Is Short

From Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul

Life Is Short

For you and me, today is all we have; tomorrow is a mirage that may never become a reality.

Louis L’Amour

“Hey, man, I’m hungry,” I said. “I’m going to go get something to eat.”

My friend Gabe smiled and warmly responded, “Alright, but you’re crazy. I can’t stop. The weather’s too good! Look for me here at the bottom of this lift when you’re done. I’m gonna go take some more runs.”

I released my bindings and began to walk in the direction of the smell of hot pizza. I shouted over my shoulder, “I’ll catch up to you later.”

I didn’t think twice about those few little words at the time. My friend, Gabe Moura, and I had been snowboarding all morning. I was too hungry to take another run, so I decided to eat something at the lodge.

I remember the weather that day. It was one of those flawlessly sunny, crisp winter Sundays where it was just brisk enough to get your blood rushing but warm enough to wear a T-shirt. I had been riding in a T-shirt all day and despite the occasional patch of ice, the snow was great.

Earlier that morning, we had been tearing up the mountain. Huge aerials, blazing speed and unfading smiles were common for us. After a quick slice of pizza in the lodge, I would soon be back on the mountain with my friend. But taking a break from this snow-capped playground was just not something Gabe would do. He continued back to the crowded lift line with a sparkle in his eyes. I remember thinking, That guy is never going to stop riding, not on a day like this at least.

I finished my lunch and headed back out. The lifts were open and I didn’t see Gabe anywhere, so I went on up. I figured he was having fun up there somewhere, and I was determined not to miss out just to wait around down at the bottom for him.

On the lift, I remember seeing a big crowd at a fork in the runs. I assumed it was just another minor collision and that somebody was just complaining about their back again. I rode for a few more hours with an intoxicating combination of adrenaline and excitement flowing through my veins. I recall seeing a crowd at the fork several more times and wondering what Gabe was up to.

The day flew by, and soon it was time to go back to the hotel. As I waited for my mom at the lodge, I saw the other kids Gabe and I had been riding with that day. Mona, one of Gabe’s friends, was standing by the parking lot and she looked beat. I naturally figured it was from the insane day of riding we had all had.

As she was standing there with her shoulders drooped, I walked over to her. As I got closer, I saw that she had tears in her eyes. She told me that Gabe had been in an accident and was being flown by air-evac to Tucson. He was in a coma.

“WHAT!?!” My mind screamed, but my voice quivered. She explained that he had collided with a skier at full speed and the back of his head had landed on a patch of ice. The skier had gotten up, said a few words, then disappeared, leaving Gabe on the ground.

The car ride home to Tucson was undoubtedly one of the longest I recall. My mind played cruel games on me while my nerves wreaked havoc on my body. I remember crying uncontrollably and vomiting. That night I called the hospital but there had been no change. Gabe was still unconscious and the doctors had no prognosis.

The next day, my friends and I bought some get-well cards and headed for the hospital. Once there, we were herded into a large conference room with probably two hundred or so people. A chaplain took the podium and informed us that Gabe was brain-dead. They were taking him off life-support, and he would be officially dead within ten minutes.

My comical get-well card seemed so trivial now. My friend, who just yesterday had shared life with me on a beautiful mountaintop, was gone forever.

The ensuing weeks were filled with a funeral, candlelight vigils and mostly struggling to comprehend why. Why did someone so completely innocent, so full of life, die? How could this happen?

It’s been about eight months since Gabe died, and I still don’t know the answers to these questions. I know I never will. I do, however, know—more intimately now— that all those clichéd sports commercials are so true. Life is short. There is no method or reason to life if you just wander through day to day. You must find your passion and live it, but be safe. There is no reason to take chances with your life. If Gabe had been wearing a helmet he would probably be alive today. Life is fragile enough as it is. It comes and goes as fleetingly as a falling star.

I strive to make my life exceptional and extraordinary, but it is difficult. You can eat well and exercise daily for an hour at the gym, but unless you truly experience life, it is all for nothing. It is so much easier to become apathetic or lazy. I see people letting their lives revolve around the TV. I see people overcome by greed and the almighty dollar, working horrendous hours at jobs they despise.

But I know I must be different. I must strive to make a difference. Gabe is my inspiration. He made a difference, in life and now in death. While he was here, Gabe brightened people’s days and made the world a richer, more loving place for his family and friends. His passion for life was something he spread to everyone, but an extraordinary person like Gabe couldn’t stop there.

Just a few months prior to his accident, he told a family member, “If anything ever happens to me, I would want all of my organs to be donated.”

The heart that so many girls fought for is now beating strongly inside of a sixty-two-year-old man, who is engaged to be married soon. Gabe’s liver went to a thirty-three-year-old husband and father. One kidney went to a woman and the other to a man. Two people that could not see before, do, thanks to Gabe’s eyes. Between thirty-five and fifty people received tissue from Gabe’s body.

Gabe not only still lives in the memories of his family and friends, he lives on in the hearts and lives of fifty other people, who are now alive and healthy because of him. Gabe set an example for all of us. You never know how much time you are going to have to live your life, so pursue your passions and make the right choice now. Make your life matter.

Scott Klinger, sixteen

[EDITORS’ NOTE: To find more information about helping save lives through organ donation, go to www.livingbank.org. or www.gabemoura.com.]

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