Yesterday, events in our community transpired that forced my mind to flashback, to remember an event that happened when I was 15.
Yesterday, a 14 year old boy was hit and killed by a trax train. As his family and his community mourns his unexpected death, I can empathize with them.
It was the end of my ninth grade year, the day we cleaned out our lockers, were readying ourselves for all of the end-of-the-year activities, heading home, excited for the annual sports banquet to be held that night.
One younger girl in my neighborhood, and ward family, was among the group, carrying a black garbage bag much bigger than herself, home. I was far ahead of her in my walk, but other friends of mine were right with her when she stopped, and set down the bag to tie her shoe. They went ahead.
They cleared the set of double train tracks before the train came, she was left waiting on the other side for it to pass. As the last car of the first train passed, she stepped out onto the tracks and began walking, only to be hit by a second train, coming from the opposite direction.
That fast she was gone.
That fast all of our lives were changed.
That fast we were closer, meant more to each other than ever before.
My dad was bishop of our ward at that time, and it was a hard funeral to direct. A difficult time for us all.
She was like the “little sister” to us older girls. She wanted to be with us wherever we were, participate in the same activities, she even took up acting like us. She was the only girl who could beat me in a burping contest!
I regret often treating her like a little sister. I admit, I wasn’t always patient with her, I didn’t show her enough love. But I was blessed to know her. I am blessed to remember her example.
One of the neatest things her family chose to display at her funeral was a picture she drew just weeks before in her art class.
They were assigned to draw a landscape. You can imagine a typical landscape: mountains, tall pine trees, a few rocks, a river.
She drew hers as a view from above.
While we all live with regrets of that day, someone to stay back with her as she tied her shoe, someone to be there to tell her to wait until the crossing arms were up, someone to help her carry her gigantic bag, someone…
I live with the regret of not always being my kindest to her. Not always being the patient team captain when it came to her choice of how long to stretch at track practice. Not making the time I had with her really count.
While her passing was difficult, it also drew us together. We treated each other differently. We cared for each other in a way that made the leaders of other wards stop and marvel.
They knew that we were “that ward”.
It was sad that it took this happening for us to unify, but we were thankful to have each other, to treat each other with a little more kindness, with increased patience and understanding.
There was a blessing in her passing.
It is a hard memory to bring up, but I am thankful that it is there. It is a blessing to have a reminder of how fragile life is, how to live without regret. How to love others because we never know what will happen.