Yesterday, the community in which I work suffered a great loss, and so did I. A former student, that meant a great deal to me and other staff members, passed away. He was in a very serious car wreck with his wife and 13 month old baby also in the car. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt, and neither was his wife. As a result of traumatic brain injury, his family had to say goodbye to him. Thankfully, his daughter was fine and his wife should hopefully survive. The tragedy is almost beyond words. It has rocked our school and community. It has placed me in a fog, with my tear ducts completely dry and my emotions numb.
Such a horrible tragedy has taken me back to a similar loss in my life when I was just in high school myself. When I was 15, I lost my best friend. As with this current situation, my Jessie was in a car wreck and suffered a life-ending head injury. She, too, was thrown from the vehicle, she was also not wearing a seatbelt. Even after 16.5 years, it still hurts. I still wonder constantly what my life would have been like if she were still here. I still ask why. Going through this loss, and trying to help students through it, feels so horribly familiar. I remember every second of hearing the news from my mom. I remember being curled up in a ball for days, sitting out in the rain numb. I remember the services, the smells, the funeral, the burial site, the songs, what she was wearing, everything. It's devastatingly fresh in my mind. I feel nauseous with grief, both for Jessie and this 19 year old boy, who had his entire life ahead of him. I feel so incredibly sad for his family and that of his wife's family. I cry for the anguish his wife is experiencing, physically and mentally, the guilt she will probably bear for the rest of her life, the sadness she will experience when she looks into her daughter's eyes and sees her husband. I am hurting for that sweet little girl who won't know her wonderful Daddy, who worked so hard to get his life in order for her. I, unfortunately, can imagine the pain and the anger his friends are experiencing. It will not be easy. Tragedy and loss is so difficult to process. So hard to understand.
It's moments like this that I just don't understand how God makes his choices, how loss works. How one life is cut so very short. For what reason? I realize it's pointless to ask why, to question the reasons behind Gods bigger plan. But I do anyway...especially when such a young life is cut so short. I see now why God put him in the situation of becoming a Daddy so early in life (at just 18). I understand why he had to go through all the struggles in his life, why he lived such an adult life when he was still just a kid. This, however, doesn't make understanding death any easier. I know it takes time. I've been working 16.5 years to understand and accept the passing of Jessie at just 15. Right now, those that knew, loved and cared for him are just trying to support each other. I pray for his family and friends. I grieve. This is all we can do.
RIP Jessie. RIP WJH. You will always be missed.