Tragedy Prompts Introspection About the New Year
This holiday season was not what I had expected. As I get older, I guess I have lost a lot of the childish excitement I used to feel during the holidays.
As with most people, life gets in the way. Things change, and we lose family members and friends. But the holidays never take a break. We must adjust the best we can, while talking ourselves through the merriment in hopes of participating in all things festive.
Ten days before Christmas, I was watching our local news. A terrible car accident happened in another part of the city, near some friends of mine. Two fatalities were reported, caused by drunk drivers who were racing and blew a stoplight.
Another vehicle with four young women in it was struck. The news reports said the women’s car had the right of way. One of them didn’t make it. A person from the other vehicle didn’t, either. The news footage was horrible.
The holidays were upon us, yet multiple lives would be affected by destruction and death.
The next day, I received some startling news that overtook my emotions. I was informed that the young woman who lost her life in the accident was a friend of our family. She was good friends with my son and some of his friends. I immediately remembered her spending time at my house, particularly on Sundays, when the “college kids” would hang out with my son. I had made it a point to have home-cooked meals for the kids. They loved it, and I loved having them over every week.
I broke the news to my wife, who was floored. It was one of those rare moments when we were both speechless. She later told our daughter, who was shocked. I can’t imagine what this young woman’s family is going through.
The tragedy prompted me to think about life and how we affect those around us, even when we don’t realize that we have an impact. I also thought about the seriousness of my health issues. I’ve realized recently that I need to start doing more of what I used to do to enjoy life again. This young woman was 29, in school, and enjoying life. From what I knew about her, she was a good, family-oriented person who was respectful and had a good sense of humor.
While hospitalized over the past two years, I let a lot of time slip away from me. Some of that lost time carried over to my daily life at home. The reasons included guilt, anguish, fear, and a failure to accept that my health has changed, and that I must change with it. Although I’ve always kept myself moving in a positive direction, I also admit that these things have left me mentally paralyzed.
I remember that this young woman always had a smile on her face. She was always pleasant and laughing, and had a personable warmth about her. I’ll never forget her smile, her laughter, and her warm spirit. The thing I can keep with me about her is the knowledge that every day is a new adventure, and we should always continue to explore the journey of our lives. We never know which adventure holds the most meaningful experience for us.
Nothing in life is promised, as I’ve witnessed. My mantra going forward for the coming decades is to “bite off more than I can chew, and chew it!”
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