It's amazing how much one person can impact so many lives; how one person can shape and change the way we think and feel. People who can change things like this are more than human, they are angels. My angel, the boy who changed my life is Alex; to him I owe my life, my son's life. Alex changed the way I live and he taught me to love, to feel, and to dream.

I first met Alex my sophomore year of high school. He came during a rough time in my life. My grandmother had recently passed away. She was the one and only person I felt that I could love and trust in this world. My father was an alcoholic, and my mother, she seemed to have entered a coma-like state. She cared about nothing, nor showed any sense of emotion. The only person who truly loved me was my grandmother. She was the one person who cared for me in the world.

The day she died, I felt as if life was over. I had no shoulder to cry on, no one to tell me everything would be alright. I had no friends in school, no one at school even knew my name, nor ever spoke to me. My parents provided no sense of compassion. My father was too drunk and my mother rarely spoke. The day I heard my grandmother died, I decided that I would kill myself the next night.

My plan was to go to school in the morning so that no one would suspect my suicide. It was that day at school that I met Alex. He was a new student and was surprisingly in all of my classes. I took no notice of him at first. I assumed he would simply become another punk or arrogant jock when he got situated in his new school. But he did something that day that no one had ever done before; he looked directly at me and asked me my name.

I was astounded that someone actually wanted to talk to me. I stuttered out my name and again to my astonishment, he continued to ask me about school, my life, where I lived. It was a simple conversation, one most people would think nothing of, but it was enough to keep me from killing myself that night.

Everyday at school thereafter he made an effort to talk to me. We had so much in common; we both owned a horse, both liked the same music, and the same books. Alex became my best friend. In fact, he became my inspiration to keep going. When I thought of Alex, I felt that there was someone out there who truly cared about me.

Alex and I eventually became more than friends. I met his family, and they were everything that mine lacked. They were nice and I could tell they wanted me around. His family became my second, yet better family.

Alex did not live far from me and often we would take long horseback rides through the National Forest. One day after school we rode further than we ever had before. It was a long rough trail and we were considering going back when we came to a clearing. There was a small cliff and below it descended a small, but beautiful waterfall. There, at that waterfall was our first kiss.

The waterfall became our spot. We would spend hours watching the wildlife and the sunset. I remember once while goofing off I tried to do a handstand along the creek's bank. After several failed attempts I finally got it. From upside-down, I could tell Alex was not paying attention. Proud of my accomplishment, I yelled, "Alex look!"

He turned around just in time to see me lose my balance and fall in. After making sure I was okay he laughed and asked, "Do you need help getting out?"

I held up my arm pretending that I needed help, but as Alex grabbed my hand I yanked him in. I will never forget that day. We couldn't stop laughing, laying there in the creek bed. It was fun and we had to ride four hours home soaking wet.

Everything good must eventually come to an end. It was November of my junior year and I was pregnant. Alex and I did not know what to do. We were young and did not have the funds to raise a child. My family offered no support or help. Their response to my pregnancy was that I got myself into this mess and I needed to find a way out. Alex's family was more caring. They were not happy of course, but they helped me and Alex find a job, and they were there for me when I needed them. Although things had changed now that I was pregnant, Alex still loved me with all of his heart.

It was early spring, April 4th 1995 that my life took another dramatic change. I had a terrible day at school that day. My pregnancy was beginning to show and I became known as the pregnant girl. That day I came home crying because Stacey, a mean popular girl called me a slut. She told me that my baby would die of embarrassment having me as a mother. Alex told me not to take anything Stacey said seriously, but I could not help it.

I needed to get away from everything and even though I knew it wasn't safe being five months pregnant, I begged Alex to take me horseback riding. I wanted to go back to the waterfall, back to where no one cared if I was pregnant, back to where Alex and I were truly happy.

The National Forest was well known for its vast wildlife reserve. Alex and I always saw deer on every visit to our waterfall. But on this warm spring day, things were different. The forest was quiet, even the birds seemed to not exist. We noticed the difference, and after making a few jokes, we ultimately fell into the ominous silence.

The silence was broken by a crack in the brush. Alex and I looked in unison, but the next thing I knew I was struggling to hold my balance as my horse reared in the air and let out a painful shriek. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a mountain lion digging its powerful claws into my horse's back end. I began screaming; my horse got free at first. She began running, but it was useless, the cougar pounced again and its claws landed just behind my saddle. My horse let out another deafening screech and her back end started going down.

I began to accept defeat; this is how I would die. I clung to the saddle, but closed my eyes, waiting for my painful death.

Suddenly I heard a scream besides my own. The cougar let go and as suddenly as the attack started, it stopped. My horse was pulling herself back up. I opened my eyes, Alex's horse was running, far ahead of mine, but Alex was not on its back. I looked back, and my horse took off running against my will. Alex was ground, the cougar standing over his limp body.

I tried with everything I had to turn my horse around, but she wouldn't stop, although stung by the wind my eyes began to well up in tears, "Alex!" I screamed over and over. "Alex!"

What happened next is a blur in my mind. My horse eventually slowed down and after what seemed like a lifetime, I reached the Park Ranger Station. They helped me off my horse and called the police and ambulance. Park rangers were sent out at once. I sat immobilized on their couch. I couldn't stop crying, the second person that I had chosen to love was dead. Alex, the man I had gave my heart to, had just traded his own life for mine.

From what I heard on the news, when the park ranger's arrived, the cougar was still there. They shot the cougar, but it was too late for Alex.

At Alex's funeral, I was asked to speak, but when standing at the podium all I could do was cry. I will always regret not speaking. I wished I could have told everyone that Alex was the most noble and brave soul that ever lived, that Alex died saving my life and his unborn child. I wished that I could have said these things, but his audience was simply left with my tears.

I lived the next four months in sorrow. Alex was dead and our baby was on the way. I underwent severe depression, but it was Alex's family who kept me going. They invited me over daily; often we would just sit and cry together, but they were always there for me. We were each others support and in my saddest moments, when I did not feel like living anymore, Alex's mother would say these words to me that have stuck with me to this day, "Don't let Alex's death be in vain."

August 14th 1995 I went into labor. Alex's mother drove me to the hospital and stayed beside me all night. I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. When the doctor put him in my arms, and my son and I locked eyes; I realized that Alex was not dead, but that his legacy would live on through our child. My son is proof that there are angels on this earth. Without them, neither I nor my son would be alive today.


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