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The fortune cookie that helped heal the pain of loss

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Imagine living life, when a single moment from your past has become so etched into your psyche, it dictates everything that you do from there on in.

Not only is it a tragic moment, you are even aware of the exact time it happened.

The strange thing is, you were not even present.

This is the reality for a woman named Amanda. At 4:59 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 7, 2011 she was supposed to be at work, but had previously swapped shifts with her best friend and boss Gabe.

“I was delighted to not have to work on a Saturday,” she explained. “So I said, Wow this must be my lucky day.’ And he said, Yes it is.’

The following morning, Amanda received a phone call that would change her life forever. There had been a shooting at her work place. Gabe had been killed.

She immediately headed to the scene of the crime, the place she knew so well and had had many laughs with her colleagues and boss.

Beyond the yellow police tape, Gabe’s body was lying on the pavement.

fortune cookie

Gabe was one of the six people murdered in the parking lot that day. It all happened outside a local grocery store at the “Congress on Your Corner”.

The media continued to report details of the massacre for weeks afterwards. All this time, Amanda struggled to come to terms with the loss, and the feeling of guilt associated to the fact Gabe had been in there in place of herself.

Sometime afterwards, Amanda decided to visit the place where Gabe had been shot to make peace with his death.

And there, standing amongst the flowers, where the messages and heartfelt notes people had left to honour the dead. It was here that Amanda received the inspirational words that have helped her deal with what happened.

It was a simple fortune cookie. Amanda picked it up. It read:

‘You are often unaware of the effect you have on others.’

To her it felt like a sign:

“It felt like a communication with Gabe, that I took to mean, ‘Amanda, I had no idea I impacted so many people and I was so loved. And Amanda, you have no idea how you impact and affect people, and how loved you are.’ … All of us are often unaware of the affect we have on others, and it shouldn’t take tragedy for us to let one another know that … to say ‘thank you,’ and ‘I love you.'”

With these thoughts in her heart, Amanda was able to take those first steps towards forgiving herself, and relinquishing blame.

We can all learn something from this. No matter who you are, we all have an impact. We are loved by others, and the world is a better place because you are in it.

Watch the video Amanda made for Upworthy, discussing her experiences

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