Don’t wait to be thankful

By Cassandra Walker

It was a cool November morning, much like the one today. We were all walking to school and talking about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

“I want lots of turkey.”

“I want to eat so much of my grandmother’s pie that it makes my stomach hurt.”

“I just want to get through Thanksgiving without my brother showing everyone the chewed-up food in his mouth.”

“Yuck!”

The kids in my fifth-grade group all exclaimed as we went on to talk about Thanksgiving and what it meant to each of us.

We weren’t really caught up in being thankful – after all we were just 10-year-old kids. We figured we had at least 20 more years before we had to be really serious about how “thankful” we all were for what we had in life.

This seemed to be the way all kids thought. Then, in an instant, our thinking changed. We all passed that big white house with the iron fence surrounding it and the large porch in front of it. When we saw that house we realized it was Brad’s house and the laughter from our Thanksgiving stories stopped and we all became quiet and sad.

Brad, another 10-year-old from our school was missing. He had gone to the Indianapolis 500 races with his 18-year-old cousin back in August. Here it was a few days before Thanksgiving and he still wasn’t home yet. His mother was hysterical and his eight-year-old brother had become a loner. The police had no luck thus far.

“How can we be thankful, when we don’t know where Brad is?” someone asked.

Somehow that day just seemed to creep by slowly as our minds continued to wonder where our friend was.

That evening my mother came into my room and told me they had found Brad. I jumped up and grabbed my coat.

“I have to go see him now,” I said.

My mother reached out and held my hand, as her eyes welled up with tears she explained to me, with her voice cracking, that Brad was dead.

The car his cousin was driving went off the road into the lake and they were trapped inside and they drowned. The police had just recovered the car and Brad’s mother was able to identify him from his clothing.

My head dropped, my shoulders sank and I started weeping uncontrollably.

Through the tears I told my mother, “I didn’t ever get a chance to say ‘Thank you’ to him for being my friend, for being the best kickball player in the school and for always sharing his chips with me.”

She held me and told me, from now on try to give thanks before it’s too late. Tell others you appreciate them, you like them or you support them. Tell those you love that you love them and tell them daily.

I have tried to do that ever since I was 10 years old, and even as I write this column, tears are rolling down my cheeks because I still can never tell Brad “Thank you.”

Don’t let another day go by without telling someone thank you and showing someone else you appreciate them.

That is what “Thanksgiving” is all about and it should be what life is all about.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanks for allowing me to share.