Valuable Lessons

I remember getting a call on the 25th of September of last year. It was a Thursday and I had two exams the following day. The woman who had called me was someone I had not spoken too in over two years. I can remember that moment like it was yesterday. That phone call transpired with the woman on the phone informing me that a friend of mine had passed away. He was 50 years old and full of life, but his heart was not. He died the night before due to a heart attack, and did not make it to the hospital. I hung up the phone, I slumped over and I began to cry. Shocked at the information that I had just been told, I broke down, while a flash of images of my friend rushed through my head as I reached for tissues. This was something I was not prepared for.

Todd Swenson, April 20, 1966 – September 24th, 2016


My friend’s name was Todd. He was an honest, goofy, lovable person, simple as that. He took care of his family, he was nice towards others, he consistently went to church(something I’ve never done), but that didn’t stop him from buying a mustang and rocking out in his garage with his collection of antique guitars. He was a great person, and yet I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in two years leading up to that phone call. This troubling fact, still affects me today. At the time I was still in school, a whole state away, and did not have many opportunists to see him. Although, that doesn’t mean I had zero opportunities to see him. Unfortunately the few chances I had, I squandered on extra time at my house, swimming or playing video games, or what have you. Activities that I still have the option to experience today. When I was in that moment, sitting at my desk wiping the tears of my face, this is what I thought about. I continued to think about how they had invited me over for dinner one time when I was back in town, and I declined. I thought about how his daughter had invited my family to go to six flags together, to catch up. I also declined. Not because I didn’t like them, or because I didn’t want to go, but because I thought there would be plenty of opportunities to do so another time. These are the moments I think about when I need to remind myself how I handled my relationship with Todd, and how I could’ve improved it.

I learned a valuable lesson after Todd’s passing. I learned very abruptly, that life is very unexpected, and the most valuable thing on this planet is the experiences we share with our friends and family. I learned that shared experiences with loved ones, is what makes human lives worth living. The relationships and connections humans can form are so unlike any other species today, and unfortunately I took them for granted for so long. This is why I’m telling this story, so that hopefully it can resonate within someone else, and motivate them to not take the people in their lives for granted. So as I continue to work, and attend class, I try to look at the people in my life as invaluable experiences. People that can provide me with love, affection, and laughter; aspects of life not normally provided by products of technology. I use this painful memory to remind myself how important it is to remain in contact with the ones you love, and therefore continue to create experiences with people before it is too late.  I would encourage anyone with valuable people in their lives to do the same. It is never too late to make an experience with someone, that you could possibly cherish forever.


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My name is Nicholas Ralston and I'm a senior at CU. This blog will be about me and my relationship to pop culture through social media!

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