Ribbons wrap around trees that line the streets of the subdivision I live. I didn’t know why until yesterday. A 21-year-old woman who lived just blocks from me, away at college for her senior year, was killed by a hit-and-run driver.
Just minutes before, the young woman had been out with friends on a Friday night. None of those friends could know that that night would be the last night they’d hear that woman’s laugh. See her smile. Hear her voice. Feel her hug.
The goodbye they shared was their last goodbye. But none of them knew that until they got the call.
The sudden call that confirms you will never see a person you love ever again.
The call that changes lives forever.
The call every parent prays never rings for them and then is shattered in disbelief when it does.
But all you can do is pray because one can’t control the erratic car, they didn’t see coming, racing toward them while crossing a street at night.
One can’t control which classroom, which grocery store, which concert, which movie theater, or which parade a gunman will choose to spray his bullets.
Our fate is not always in our hands. Even the most obsessed control freak has to concede to that. There is no guarantee to a long life no matter how healthy a lifestyle you live.
You can eat right. Exercise daily. Limit risky behavior. But if your day brings you to the exact spot where a car will run a red light, or a bullet will pass with no warning, what can you do? What chance do you have?
Nobody lives forever. Death is certain. We all know that. But everyone wants a timely death. To die with a wrinkled face, silver hair, and a hundred years of memories lived, instead of just a couple decades.
How some people live long enough to see old age is a combination of good genes, self-care, and having the good fortune of never being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When lives, especially young lives, are taken in such tragic, unfair, and nonsensical ways, it is easy to wonder what this life is for. Is it worth it? To live and love when your life and your love can be ripped away from you any minute of any day?
Our personal life experiences may answer that question for us.
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