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
Looking for caterpillars on milkweed plants
A monarch caterpillar
Playing beach on a messy floor
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.