It was the last day of the quarter, right before we all went home for winter break. I was in the common room when a hall mate, Stephanie, came in. We said our goodbyes and I hugged her.
“Fumiko, you give the best hugs. You hug like you really mean it!” I laughed and we went our separate ways.
Three weeks later, Gen came to pick me up from the airport. In the car, she told me.
At about 3 am that very morning, Stephanie and her good friend Barbara had just dropped off their respective boyfriends at their houses and were on their way to the dorms. A drunk driver had driven through the light and smashed right into them.
Barbara and Stephanie were only 20 years old.
I didn’t know either of them too well but the fact that I remembered Stephanie’s last words was very significant to me. They reminded me of how fleeting everything is and how short life can be.
What was I doing, wasting time being embarrassed and shy? Where the fuck were my balls? How the fuck could I be so inconsiderate to Barbara and Stephanie’s parents who would give anything to have their daughters back while I kept quiet in a shadow of indecision and fear to live the life that they wished their daughters had?
That was the moment I decided that I would much rather regret the things I did than those that I didn’t do.
That same year, Gen and I acted on a secret crush we had on a Resident Assistant, climbed the long steps to his hall, went to his door and spoke to him. I don’t remember his name now but I know that I have that memory because Stephanie and Barbara in my life made that kind of impact.
I haven’t regretted a single thing since. Everyday is inspiration to live.