Growing up, I took on a lot of responsibility at an early age. Partly because I had to. My little brother is 6 years younger than I am so I always felt the need to provide and protect him.

My sister, who was 7 years older than me, was always the carefree wanderer who did all she could to escape the chaos and dysfunction of our family dynamic. Because of this, we never had much time together.

My sister grew up pretty fast, getting pregnant at a young age. My sister becoming pregnant was a turning point for our relationship. We were inseparable from then on.

If we weren’t together, we were talking on the phone, if we weren’t talking on the phone, we were texting. The first person I could confide in, laugh with, be my 100% raw self with.

I was in my junior year of college and my life seemed like it was so close to starting. I had no idea just how different things really would become.

I was woken by heavy knocks on my door. Stumbling to the door, confused and still half asleep, I found my aunt on the other side. She had bad news for me.

My sister was in a fatal car accident. I was stunned, I had no words, I could barely process what I heard. In an instant, my life changed completely. My best friend was gone. All I kept thinking was how I wish I had 5 more minutes with her.

The biggest thing I have taken from this is that life is so precious, so short and so fragile. In an instant everything could change. From that day on, I decided to live in such a way that I take advantage of and appreciate each day I’m given.

I constantly challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone, follow my dreams and spread light in to the world. It is far too easy to get caught up in the things that go wrong or the “what if’s”.

I’ve learned that nothing is given to you that you cannot handle. You cannot live in the past because time will pass you by and there is far too much beauty in the world to miss out on.

Every time I look into my nieces eyes, I want to make the world a better place and I am starting with myself.