"Follow your heart - set your goals high. Take advantage of wonderful opportunities, they may never come again. We are so proud of you. Love, Mom, Dad, Kate and Reese."
-Senior Salute for Zach Willis (Aug 2nd 1984 - Nov. 9th 2003)
Today is the 7 year anniversary of the day we (the Pittsburg, KS community) tragically lost another life too soon. Anyone who is from my hometown, or the SEK area will tell you - there's something in the water. Our town is cursed. Over the course of several years we have attended more funerals to pay tribute to friends lost than any one person should have to attend in their entire lives. Beginning in 2000 with the loss of my family member, Abby Brunetti, I can personally count 7 funerals I've attended of friends lost whom I went to high school with...and those are only those funerals I was able to attend. That doesn't even include the several others I wasn't able to pay respects to. While that's a whole blog in itself, today I want to pay tribute to that (excuse my language) shit eating grin of Zach Willis that we all loved so much...
I can remember back to the days of ICQ in high school and then MSN in college. Many late nights of conversations getting to know one another and talking about God knows what. I would still chat with Zach frequently even after I graduated high school and went off to college. We would talk about our dating lives and then when he was in college - the college life; his cut too short. I think it's fair to say that Zach had a bit of a crush on me. He was always throwing in a punch line and flirting with me. I remember him asking me if I'd ever "go out" with him...as it was referred to in high school and me giggling like a young teen girl. I'm not innocent either though, of course I'm sure I flirted back...hence the name his own sister gave me "D.T." (you can decipher that one) and the t-shirt she made me and forced me to wear on my 16th Birthday at school that had "D.T." plastered on the back - I wonder what the teachers thought about that one?? What can I say? I'm a flirt. I know this. Most of all, I'll never forget his smile and his laugh. You can see in his senior picture above what a fabulous smile he had. But I can still hear and see him laughing. I remember as if it was yesterday...when he would laugh he would through his head back and laugh...most likely after cracking a joke or making fun of me in some way. I wish I could remember more of our times growing up and share them with you all today (especially you, Kate) but the memory that clouds all the rest is that amazing smile and laugh.
Follow your heart - set your goals high. Take advantage of wonderful opportunities, they may never come again.
If Zach were still with us today, I know he'd be doing amazing things. He was so bright, so witty, and so smart with larger than life goals. So today, take a moment to reflect on your life. Have you taken advantage of all the wonderful opportunities that have come your way? I'd like to think in most cases I have. I've always said, "you can't put a price on experience" and because of that I truly think I have followed my heart in most aspects of my life - at least those I have control over. This is also the reason I am in debt :) - but if I died tomorrow, I'd have no regrets. Some chances may never come around again - so set your goals high, take a risk...and live life the way that Zach did...and most of all..smile and laugh along the way!