Our school community has been hit hard in its first month of the new year with several tragic events. The first involved the brother of our oldest son’s friend who was hit by a car while crossing a busy street by bike. He emerged with two broken legs and a punctured lung, but his life was spared. A few weeks later, the teen cousin of our daughters’ friends died in a motorized dirt bike accident on the other side of the state. And now, this week, another family in our school and church community has been devastated by an accident involving their daughter, who was driving a vehicle that collided with a young motorcyclist. Unfortunately, the cyclist had been speeding on that same road where the bicycle accident happened several weeks back, and he died as a result. His death has left two families engulfed by grief.
When laid out in black and white, it all seems very mundane, like a newspaper article just stating the facts. But I know better. Both fatalities and everyone involved in all three accidents were kids. Not long ago, they were babies learning to crawl, then, rather sloppily at first, walk. Soon, they were on their Hot Wheels and trikes, and then, what seemed like a moment later, their parents were removing training wheels, watching their kids’ first wobbly attempts at going solo along the sidewalk. Another flash and those kids were off testing out a new world on the road. Their anxious parents offered up a little prayer while sending them on their way, knowing they could not keep their children in cages and trusting, hoping they would return safely.
It is so hard to make sense of young life lost.
Though mostly from the periphery, I have glimpsed the dark tunnel that these parents are now moving through and have wondered, quite naturally, what if it had been my child? And how are they possibly coping? How does one travel through such heartache? Last night, I found myself overcome with emotion as I tried to absorb the reality of it all. I couldn’t get beyond the pain the parents must be feeling, as well as that of their children.
The only thing I can think to do to reconcile any of it is return to gratitude. I am thankful not all lives involved were lost. I am thankful for the connectedness of community that is in place to help soften the fall. Already, I have heard of small blessings related to these accidents. Someday, somehow, even these tragedies will bear fruit.
But for now, the heart weeps.