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It Takes One Second for a Life to Change Forever

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Humans are meant to grow old and become their own person. They have their own beliefs and ideals. That is part of their makeup. But there are many people who come in and out of other people’s lives, each leaving a mark. However, ultimately each person makes his or her own decisions.

My mom grew up in Ventura, California. She was a beach girl. She had bone-straight brown hair, chocolate-tanned skin, and was less than 100 pounds until she was in her mid-twenties. Everyone loves my mom. She lights up the whole room with her smile. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Our family is known for our chubby cheeks, and whenever my mother smiles they bunch up and make her eyes turn to moon crescents. She will hang out with anyone, and she always is the center of attention.

My dad grew up in a very small town called Independence, Oregon. When I was growing up, most of my classmates did not even know what Oregon was. “It’s the state above California,” I’d always say. He was a shy guy, but everyone wanted to be his friend. Every girl thought he was handsome. Unfortunately, he said he would get nauseated just thinking of talking to a girl. He was the best at every sport: football, baseball, hockey, you name it; he was good at it. He always reminded me of Dennis Quaid, he has the same broad shoulders and thick body build. When I was young, he had thick, wavy, black hair with a black mustache to go with it. But when he was growing up he was a sandy blonde, and now he has Santa Claus-gray hair. He has small blue eyes, and when he laughs his whole face goes red and his eyes vanish.

I laugh like my dad, and I smile like my mom.

My parents were both popular and were loved by everyone. Sometimes my brother and I felt pressure just being their children. My mother was a great cheerleader, while I was a nerdy writer. My dad starred in every sport, while Ryan played every musical instrument.

Many of our relatives and close friends always say, “Kelsey, you look just like your momma.” I like hearing that once in a while, but most of the time it gets kind of tiring. I am my own person, and no matter what my parents tell me, I am going to make my own decisions. Life is too short to follow everyone else’s footsteps.

The red and blue lights flash before my eyes. I feel a little dazed, and I can’t remember what happened five minutes ago. Why is that? I realize I am wet and cold, and my mouth has that sharp iron taste. Blood. I hear someone, a ways off, asking me what my name is. Actually, he is very close and is reaching out to touch my arm. It is a policeman. I try to focus my eyes a little more, and I notice five cop cars and two ambulance vehicles.

My car is crushed on the driver’s side, and is up on the curb. I look at the cop and ask the question I already know the answer to.

“Was I in a car crash?” I notice my voice is low, and it burned my throat to talk.

“Yes, ma’am. We already called your parents. They are going to meet us at the hospital.”

My parents. I can see my dad driving ten miles above the speed limit, which he never does, and staring straight ahead. My mom is next to him, her face wet with tears, and I know her heart is beating really fast.

I try to sit up, but I can’t. I can see the EMTs coming with a stretcher. I close my eyes, trying to remember what happened. I remember listening to Vanessa Carlton, and it being very dark. I remember seeing a shadow appear from the woods and swerving to avoid it. There was a thud, and my side of the car was attached to a tree. I climb out of the passenger side of the car and lie down on the wet, concrete highway. My head is pounding, and I feel like I’m on another planet. I close my eyes and fall asleep.

“Ma’am, we are going to lift you onto the stretcher,” says the cop. “Don’t worry. You are going to be OK.”

It took one second. One second I was listening to music, and the next I was against a tree. It hurts to think, and as they set my head gently onto the soft stretcher that smells like medicine, I fall back to sleep. The last thing I wonder is if the deer made it out OK.

It takes one second to make a decision, and it takes one second for a life to be changed forever. I learned this lesson. However, the important thing is to know how to live life before it is gone. I could have died on that road, and all my thoughts, worries, fears, and dreams would have disappeared with me.

My life is mine. I came into this world by myself, only I can read my deepest thoughts, and I will leave this earth by myself. It will not matter who my husband is, or how many kids and grandchildren I have. The people I have encountered in my life have had a profound influence on who I am today and who I will be tomorrow. My parents are the biggest example of this. I may have their same smile and laugh, but I am still my own person. I can’t make decisions based on what other people think of me or want of me.

So, my name is Kelsey Rae Dunckel. I have thick, unruly, brown hair, and hazel eyes. I used to be called “Cheeks” because of the huge ones I have. I am short and stubby, and I never once cared much about how I presented myself to people. My mom would always ask, “Kels, why don’t you put a brush through your hair? Why can’t you tend to yourself a bit more?” Sometimes I wondered that myself. But I would be kidding myself if I tried to care. I care more about animal rights than I do my own personal appearance. Though, my dad was really mad that I swerved to avoid that deer.

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