06/02/06 — Tragic loss: Teen’s death should remind us all of preciousness of life

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Tragic loss: Teen’s death should remind us all of preciousness of life

Hundreds of people turned out Thursday evening to say goodbye to a Charles B. Aycock High School senior who lost his life earlier this week.

No one really knows yet the details of what happened that day, but right now, that doesn’t matter. That discussion is for another time and place.

Right now is the time for remembering a young man taken from his family much too soon.

John Paul Setliff is gone, and he will be missed by friends and family.

He was remembered Thursday as a young man who was kind, fun and successful — an achiever.

His memory will be forever etched into the minds of the people whose lives he touched. His impact on those he met was great, even though his life was short.

John Paul should be remembered because of what he had already accomplished.

There is nothing more heart-wrenching than the loss of a student — a child, really — who has not even had the chance to grow into an adult.

So much potential lost unnecessarily — it is enough to make anyone pause to think about how short and how precious life is, and how much we should be doing to appreciate the time we have.

You never know when the words you say to a loved one will be the last. You never know what might happen after you have said goodbye and sent him or her off to school or work. That is the nature of life.

So, really, there is little time to waste.

As Wayne County students begin their final week of school — their last in public school for some — parents need to remind their teens that one decision or accident can change their lives in an instant.

They can celebrate, but they should always be mindful of the fact that it only takes a moment to change the course of your life — or to lose it.

There will be many people who will have a tear or two in their eyes as they watch the Class of 2006 walk across the stage at Charles B. Aycock High School. There will be someone special missing.

And there are plenty of other schools in the county that also will have an empty seat where a treasured classmate should be.

So, Class of 2006, celebrate with your families and friends next week. You should be proud of what you have achieved. But, please, remember how precious life is — and understand the chance you have been given to spread your wings and to build a future.

Being all you can be is the least you can do to honor those who will never get that chance.

Published in Editorials on June 2, 2006 9:40 AM