Our granddaughter is a cheerleader for her high school. In a diminutive town with a whopping big heart of under 2,000 people, Friday night basketball is something to look forward to ushering in the busy weekend. An enjoyable activity knitting a small community together with a common goal — beat the heck out of the opposing team. Friday’s game was going to be against their biggest rival, so everyone’s sites were set on enjoying a good game by hard working student athletes. We had been mulling over whether or not we were going to make the drive over to see the boys play. Leave it all on the court, as they say. We ultimately chose to forego the Friday night fun for a couple of reasons, but the plunging temperature was the main decider. It had been sprinking raining earlier in the day, and now the temperature was starting to dip into single digits. We really didn’t feel like taking on that extra stressor.
After the game she and her Dad and Stepmom stopped by to deliver us some caffeine-free diet soda. A sweet gesture since it’s a kind we can’t get in our hometown. They said the junior varsity won their game, but the varsity lost by a wide margin. My thoughts immediately went to the kids who had played their hearts out and lost what was surely an important game to them. How somber the mood will be after they get home, scarf down a cheese pizza, and stream a movie on Netflix. They were re-thinking any and all mistakes that were made, exaggerating the one free-throw they missed or wincing at having fouled out in the 4th quarter. If I know the coach, he most assuredly gave them a we’ll get ’em next time kind of speech. Quoting Scarlett O’Hara from the great Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, “After all, tomorrow is another day!” Or is it…
We were sitting snugly watching the 10:00pm news, then it happened: BREAKING NEWS!! The tile appeared on the screen. Mostly these local breaking news reports are about a Catepillar union settlement or the City Council having come to an agreement or some such thing that doesn’t really qualify as Earth-shattering news to those of us not involved in whatever is interrupting the normal current event updates of the day. This Breaking News, however, made us raise our heads up from the games we were playing on our iPads to listen to the now realized heart-stopping bulletin. A male classmate of our granddaughters was in critical condition in the hospital after a fatal collision on a country road near her house. Worse yet, his brother just two years older than he was pronounced dead at the scene. We were just staring at the screen in disbelief while it was being conveyed to us there were still officers on the scene and names were being withheld pending more information. Oh my God!
My stomach lurched into my throat. I immediately got on the phone to our son to warn of the impending news and didn’t want our granddaughter to be blindsided by texts from her friends. We don’t know who they are yet, but I’ll bet she finds out way before we do, which turned out to be a correct assumption. Not knowing who they were was an hour of great angst. I was devastated by the news that anyone would have befallen such tragedy. Was it a member of the basketball team? Were they her neighbors? Was it a close friend or worse her boyfriend? Then I thought worse for who? It was horrific no matter what the names were. A family has just lost one of their precious children, and another is injured in the hospital. Death is a final cut from which there is no return. There will be no graduations, college football games, falling in love, first job, getting married, having children. Nothing. Simply nothing. It all stopped the second the child lost control of the car on what must have been a little slick part of the dark road they were traveling. Although none of this is the case, it really doesn’t matter if those kids were stoned, driving too fast for conditions, balancing a dog on their lap, changing the radio while a high-wire act was doing backflips in the backseat of the car. It is a tragedy. A word that is not even remotely descriptive of the situation. A tragedy from which there is no resurrection. We can only hope God’s angels were watching over them providing a safe passage for the deceased and continues to nurture the one in the hospital. Lives changed forever. Unimaginable grief trumping everything.
The schools are closed Monday for Martin Luther King’s Day , but Tuesday’s normal I can’t believe I missed that free-throw talk by the lockers has been replaced with tears, counselors, group discussions, and mind-reeling unimaginable sadness. Appreciate who and what you have while you have it. It could all be gone in a micro-second. After all tomorrow may not be another day… Sandy