Last Tuesday, a sixteen-year old girl died in my neighborhood. I didn’t know her. She and a group of several teenagers were in an SUV which flipped over, ejecting them all from the car. They were not wearing seat belts. She died at the scene. The others were injured. The newspaper said that speed was a factor in the accident. It was 9:30 on a Tuesday night.
A sixteen year old girl died in my neighborhood. One block away from my house. In the yard of a house where my brother and I played with the only other kids our age in the neighborhood. I drive down that street every single day. When I drive down that street, I know I’m almost home. It’s right next to the park. It’s a blind curve, and I always ride the brake when I get there, just to be safe.
Safety. In this blog, I talk a lot about how I want to feel safe and comfortable. This makes me feel safe, that gives me comfort. Well, I still feel safe. But the neighborhood that seems so innocent that I don’t worry if I forget to lock the door feels a little different, mainly because I don’t know how to feel about this. I feel very strange. I didn’t know the girl at all. She was a student at one of the Catholic girls’ high schools, she played sports, argued with her siblings, went to school dances. And she died in my neighbor’s front yard.
At 9:30 last Tuesday, I was making oatmeal cookies. My brother was home from youth group and he and his friends were playing ping-pong in the backyard. Two of them had gone fishing and had brutally sunburned feet. My parents heard the sirens but I didn’t. I was trying to get cookie batter off of my fingers. My life continued as normal, but other lives were altered significantly. There’s nothing I can do about any of this. All I can do is pray for her family and the others in the car and go on with my life. I can continue to tease my brother and make oatmeal cookies.
I could continue with a detailed discussion on mortality and the ephemeral quality of life, but I’m not going to. Instead, to all my friends, to my family, please don’t talk on your cell phones and drive. Please don’t drive drunk, or buzzed, or high. Please stop at red lights. Please look both ways before you cross the street. Please, please always wear your seat belts. I love you too much to think about losing you at 9:30 on a Tuesday night.
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” –Anne Frank