July 31, 2012

Sorrow and Life

It has been a couple of busy, mixed up weeks of summertime. We went to Clover and Evan's for 4 days, Cody and Tori left for points westward, six people from the community, including 3 teens, were killed in a multiple car crash, the Heritage Day Parade happened, and Justin switched jobs. Mixing in the general summer schedule-lessness, things have been sort of helter-skelter.

The car accident involved a local dairy farming family, a former superintendent's wife, and our UPS man's daughter. Somehow, even though the accident took place at a construction site in Antwerp, 70 miles away, all four vehicles were from within a 10 mile radius of us. A tractor trailer hauling yogurt from a plant in North Lawrence didn't see the line of cars around a curve, hit his brakes, and lost control on the slick new pavement. He slammed into the car of our former superintendent's wife, which hit a DOT truck from Nicholville, which slammed into a RAV4 with 5 people, including a grandmother (a retired English teacher from BMC), her daughter-in-law, and her two daughters and one of the daughter's best friend. The RAV4's gas line cracked and exploded and all were killed instantly. The superintendent's wife died 4 hours later, and the man from Nicholville was in critical condition, but did not die.

There was no evidence of texting or cellphone use--it was truly just a horrible accident. One man lost his mother, his wife, and both kids. To go from a family, to no family in minutes. It just takes your breath away. It is hard to even imagine the magnitude of pain and.... well life altering-ness. The viewings and funerals were huge. With Elsie, I didn't even try to go. We happened to be driving past the church as the pallbearers stood ready to carry the casket in and suddenly it really hit. The agony of loss and confusion that the families are facing.

There is so little you can say or do. There are no words you can say that will soothe their grief. There is nothing you can do that will remove that pain. Grief is so personal. How people deal with it, how long they grieve--it is different for each person. It's a heaviness that just follows them around and cannot be lessened until they have grieved enough. We can't take turns carrying it around for them, despite our best intentions.

Every time there is an accident like this, you realize again the frailty of life. You realize how quickly it all can change or end. And all you can do is sympathize, try to find words to comfort, and then go back to your own life and look at it from a different perspective. Nothing can seem that annoying or irritating when you realize just feeling irritated and annoyed means you are alive, that life is still ahead of you. And while you wish there was more you can do for their pain, you feel such a deep thankfulness for what you still have. And you can't help feeling a deeper appreciation and even joy in seeing the continuance of life--little changes in Elsie (she smiles!), new words for Gilbert, new interests for Orianna and Lily (Braiding and American Girl books and dolls), the tasseling of corn and blooming of goldenrod which means fall is coming, the changing of the month tomorrow, sunrises, sunsets, approaching conventions, getting Lily ready for school... . It is all still mine. And I can't help but feel a deep, deep thankfulness and unworthiness for it all.

We drove that same road two days before they died--went through the same construction zone. Why do we survive and they don't? There is nothing that can explain that. There is no reason. But we still do survive. And I feel I should be enjoying all the beautiful bounty of a normal life more since they can't. And so through the sorrow for the families and the lives lost and changed, there is an even deeper joy in our beautiful, commonplace life. 

Cody towing hay wagons with his whale of a station wagon

Cody and Anthony

Reading Archie comics

Hairstylists. They combed and combed the dolls hair.

Baby yawns. What is cuter?

Lily got this zebra mask from her Grandma Ann-Julie. And loves it!


Justin's birthday afternoon

Gilbert doing a happy dance in his cowboy boots because we were going to walk to see the cows.

The black one with the white circle is Rupert, who we will be eating this winter. Poor beastie.

Owen and Gilbert contemplating cows

Picking flowers

Looking for caterpillars on milkweed plants

A monarch caterpillar

Playing beach on a messy floor

Star stickers

The kids found a frog and Owen found them a piece of wood to float in the water for the frog to climb on.

Gilbert got grass for the frog and Orianna and Lily tried to find substitute lily pads for it. 

All this is mine. And I love each little bit of it.


laura said...

I love the pictures of the kids all squinched in, I love the day to day life, I love the flowers, and I love your thoughts. Thank you for posting this. Hope to see you soon, my friend (:

Virginia said...

It is really sobering and scary. When I heard about the accident, I nearly had a heart attack b/c it's a spot we all have to drive through and Mary and the kids had just gone through a couple days before, too. Dying in an accident is so much more real to me after my accident b/c I honestly thought I was going to die. It's like I know what people think right before they die b/c I know what I was thinking and feeling and it makes the actual moment of dying that much scarier, at least in sudden, abrupt car accidents. Scary, sad, and confusing, but it does allow you to appreciate moments much more. I'm so glad I'm living so I can see your gorgeous new baby Elsie! What a difference a month makes, eh? And I say this every time, but you know I mean it when I say I adore your family. So beautiful and quirky, just the way I like 'em. ;-) And happy belated to Justin! I was just thinking this weekend about how I probably had missed his bday. I hope it was good and peaceful and filled w/ love! I'm so glad you guys are okay.

Cecil and Amy said...

That accident has really affected me, too. Mom told me about it and then I read the articles in the Massena paper. Your blog was a beautiful tribute to this horrible event.

Evan and Clover and Co. said...

I was just complaining about having to open the patio door for Lincoln for the 69th time today, and Evan said, "Go read Bet's latest blog posting. You won't complain about opening doors." True.

Lisa said...

Loved all the pics, looks like you have a little Orianna baby, maybe looks a bit like Cheyenne too?!