Do you know where you were and what you were doing 6 years ago today? I do.
My husband was working in Los Angeles. Our two older kids were at school in Kindergarten and 7th grade. The younger two ages 3 and 2 were left with a babysitter as I drove 20 miles from Parks into Flagstaff AZ to to work with a fast wifi connection before runnng errands. My favorite stop was Late for the Train coffee shop on Milton Road for their many tables, fast wifi and good coffee. My car was on fumes when I rolled into the parking lot. I added “get gas” to my list of errands to run later.
After an hour of so, I received a call from the school superintendent to tell me, the school board president, that there was a fatal accident involving three sisters (two of our students and an 18-year-old) of a local Parks family travelling to California around midnight the previous night. The two small classes (10-15 students in each) involved, 5th and 7th grade, were extremely upset and crisis counselors had been contacted. Inside the coffee shop, I yelled into the phone for information and details. As I grabbed my computer and stuff, my phone rang again. This time it was someone (I can’t remember who) explaining that my daughter, as well as the rest of the 7th grade class, was hysterically upset over the tragic loss of their friend and I needed to get on campus as soon as possible. I explained I was in town and would arrive in 20 minutes.
Everyone in the coffee shop, strangers and those who knew me as a regular alike, stared silently as they witnessed my distress and sensed the urgency to get out of there as quickly as possible.
I ran to my car. Leaving the parking lot I realized (DAMN) no gas. I banged on the steering wheel screaming expletives. I quickly drove to the nearest gas station. In my haste and stress and delirium, I couldn’t remember what side the gas tank was on, even though I had owned the car many years. I drove around and around the pumps, unable to get the car positioned with the tank next to the pump. Frustrated and crazed I got out of the car and stretched the pump until it reached around my car to pump gas. Shaking, I only pumped what I needed to get me to the school.
Eighteen miles. Blindly driving. Crying. Screaming. Disbelieving.
Six years later, my friend grieves the loss of her babies. Each year, this is the hardest week of her life, May 31 the hardest day and summer is tough with each girl’s birthday one right after the other in June, July and August.
Yet it was this week that this friend beautifully posted: “someone somewhere is struggling more than you can imagine. be grateful for what you have, how very insufficient it may seem at times. be thankful for those around you. make sure your kids know, WITHOUT A DOUBT that they are loved. that is the greatest legacy we leave our children”.
Alohna, Bryanna, Charless, you are remembered, you are loved.