Yesterday was the 4th anniversary of the death of a young man who played soccer with my son. He was 17 years old and was killed when a drunk driver, driving without headlights on at night crossed the center line and hit his car head on. Of course, the drunk driver survived. It always seems that way. To make things worse, the guy had been arrested five times prior for drunk driving. If I recall correctly, his license had been suspended and he shouldn’t have even been driving.
Six years ago last month, a young man who attended high school with my daughter was also killed in a car accident. He was 16. His mom was critically injured in that accident and his sister and brother sustained injuries as well.
This past summer, an acquaintance of my youngest daughter was killed in a horrific crash between her car and a dump truck. She was one month shy of 17 years old.
Ten years ago, a dear friend of mine lost her 5 year old daughter to a school bus accident. I did not know her at that time, but each year as that anniversary comes around, my heart breaks for her and her husband, daughter and son.
All of these instances scream “Unfair!” to me. Young people are not supposed to die. Death is supposed to be for old people. Those who have raised their kids, worked their jobs, loved on their grandkids, and are ready to leave this earth and its pain and difficulties.
Death is such a difficult concept. Sometimes it is expected. For example, when my grandma died, it didn’t come as a big shock. She was 86 years old and had been sick for a few weeks. When my dad died, it was a little bit of a shock simply because he had always recovered from the sickness of his lungs that landed him in the hospital many times. In June of 2004, though, he didn’t recover.
Death of young people, though, is against what we believe to be the natural order of things.
For me, death of anyone or anything I love is beyond difficult. Early this year, I lost my beloved cat, Molly. She was 14. One minute she was fine and the next she was crying in pain. A few hours later, she was gone. There is not a day that goes by that I still do not shed tears over missing her so much. She was my constant companion. She didn’t get mad at me if I was having a bad day. She would just cuddle up next to me and purr. She loved me unconditionally. I can’t get that kind of love from any person here on earth. I believe only an animal is capable of that kind of devotion as long as I live in this world.
I told my husband last night that I could easily become one of those cynical people–those who refuse to give any piece of their heart away to any one or any thing. After al, at some point, my heart would be broken by doing that. People hurt me all the time–either by not allowing me to be me or by making it clear that I am not someone they really like to be around or even pretending to be my friend when in reality they are talking about me or my family to others–and they aren’t always speaking the truth. Even an animal, who can’t really hurt me intentionally, eventually dies…and that is a hurt that, for an animal lover like me, cuts deeply. Maybe it’s best if I don’t give any part of me to anyone?
The problem, of course, is that it is too late for that. I have already given pieces of my heart away. Molly had a big one and she took it with her when she died. That hole in my heart will never heal. My husband has a big piece as well. He has hurt me many times (as I am sure I have hurt him). I gave birth to four living children. They all have a piece of my heart. There are others as well whom I have let into my life, whether each of these was a good or bad decision remains to be seen. I expect there will be many times that I will get hurt.
I guess maybe that is all just part of loving. After all, the one man who walked this earth and was perfect in every way, was hurt beyond belief. I contributed to that hurt as he died for my sins as well as every one else’s. That kind of hurt I can’t even fathom.