>Into the Nevermore

4 Apr

>When tragedy strikes, it’s like breaking a glass. The shards scatter into pieces and fly in the most unexpected directions. This week my positioning was just so and the smallest of shards lodged itself square into my heart. Since Monday I’ve wavered between devastation, a renewed focus and then back to devastation.

The family involved was one degree of separation away, but those shards know no boundaries.

On Monday, the mountain stretch of I-70 deteriorated quickly. A fierce spring storm whipped in and whiteout conditions ensued — catching spring break (and other) travelers completely unaware. Our friends were en route to Disneyland after much debate over whether or not to go. It wasn’t the potential for weather, it was whether or not to just stay home.

The semi must’ve jackknifed moments before and they couldn’t see it until it was too late. Their minivan went into a slide on the icy road and then it was over. There were many after them. Some counts go as high as 75, but they were the unlucky ones to collide first. Realizing too late to reduce their speed. Four young children watched as their beloved dad lay dying. I can’t even fathom it.

We knew this amazing family via dear, old friends. Some of the first we met in Boulder. The mom is our good friend’s sister. The dad, her husband. We saw them over the years at various events. When our friends got married, when we hosted a baby shower, when the babies were born. When a father passed away.

The news hit me like a piece falling from the sky. Or a kick in the gut. The air sucked out of the room. My head reeling. The picture on the news website the very same one our friends have had up in their house for years. “Oh my god. Oh my god. No.”

This family is one of the most loving I’ve been lucky enough to encounter. The siblings so attached and devoted. The parents so kind. The majority of them have become school teachers, dedicating their lives to the betterment of young minds. And also allowing themselves to be as available to their own kids as much as possible when you’re a working family. It has always been so inspiring. And enviable.

Everyone always says, “he was such an amazing person” when someone dies. But this time, I can personally attest that it was true. Very, very true.

After massive amounts of tears, I went a little nuts. Became frantic over locating the picture I have of them at a party in my backyard. I found it and cried more. Five years can seem like a lifetime.

So that’s been my week. Not knowing from one minute to the next whether I’ll be laughing or choking back tears. I think if I’d never met this family and saw the tragedy unfold on the news as it has, I’d still be touched. And very sad. I’m like that. Things touch me and I can’t shake them. But the fact that we’ve known this family for so many years — even though mostly through our friends — makes it that much harder. I can hear their voices and laughter. Picture their faces. Remember when the kids were born at least vaguely. And now I feel their pain.

I keep thinking of the mom. So young and now widowed. Her body broken from the accident, her heart broken from losing her best friend. Her mind trying to salvage strength for the four little faces who’ll be looking to her for the rest of their lives.

Then yesterday, I got this text message. It was from our friends. J had flown to his sister’s side immediately, leaving his own family in Florida where they were vacationing at Disney World. So K had stayed behind, going through the motions of Magic Kingdom for the sake of her own kids. They wanted to protect them from the sadness for a bit longer. Preserve some innocence for a few more days. Before everyone’s world officially fell to pieces. So K forwarded me a picture that J took of his sister. At the very moment she was able to stand for the first time and take those kids into her arms. The phone almost fell from my hands and I started to shake. Relief that she was okay washed over me and then the tidal wave of sadness came right in behind. They have so much to face. So much they’ve lost. But they still have each other.

So now I’m searching for something to do. Something to help. Something. Anything. To keep my head and heart from spinning. And I keep grabbing my girls, my hubby just a little bit tighter. Lingering on their faces just a bit longer. And trying desperately to remind myself that life is as fragile as glass.

TODAY’S THEME SONG: You Dance. Eastmountainsouth. I could walk another road. I could sing another sad song. But I could never make it home without you.

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One Response to “>Into the Nevermore”

  1. shandreamer April 5, 2008 at 2:01 am #

    >O my God. I didn’t read this until after we talked today picking up the kiddos. My heart and prayers are there with you, with them, with us all.s

    Like

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