My heart is heavy this morning as I mourn the loss of someone I didn't even know. Let me explain. My son played in a marching band festival on Saturday. I did not attend for several reasons: (1) it was an all-day ordeal; (2) Mike was working a double shift which meant; (3) Alisa would be left alone or "pawned off" to another family member all of whom were busy. I decided Alisa and I would hang out while I entrusted Aaron's care to the band directors and other parent chaperones in the Band Booster Club. Aaron returned that night and casually mentioned that a band member had been hit by a car after Friday's game and killed and some of the other students were crying. He didn't know the name of the student or any further details. I asked if the band director mentioned it to the students. He simply said, "No."
Fast forward to this morning. When I dropped my daughter off at her school there were crepe paper ribbons tied around the trees in front of the school. As I drove slowly down the street, I noticed one tree had an "In Loving Memory" poster affixed to the trunk and cellophane-wrapped bouquets of flowers encircling its base. Traffic was not heavy, but people were still dropping off students so I couldn't really stop and see what had happened. I went back home, changed out of my flannel pants and into walking shorts and my shape-ups, grabbed a water bottle and set out again. On my way I noticed someone had put red Solo cups in the chain link fence to spell out "R.I.P. KELSEE." Two young ladies by that name came to mind. The walk around the block seemed to take an eternity. I neared the crepe paper-clad trees and read the full name with the date 10.15.10 beneath the torn and weathered photocopy picture of the 8th grade student. The student whose face I recognized as she has gone to school with my kids since kindergarten: a year older than my daughter, a year younger than my son. The same face I'd seen with pigtails on the playground across from the elementary school years before. The same face I'd seen adorned with sparkly make up as she danced with her girlfriends at the talent show. The same face I'd just seen at the football game a couple weeks ago...I saw the vice principal comforting a student in front of the office. I saw teachers in small groups crossing from the cafeteria back into the main building. What had happened? Was Kelsee the same student who'd been struck by the car Friday night?
As I turned the corner continuing on my walk back home, the choir teacher with an entourage of male students dressed in black t-shirts were loading boxes into her car. I'm guessing these were Kelsee's things that would have to be delivered to her family.
Hot tears began to glide down my cheeks as I mourned the loss of the same face a mother would no longer kiss good morning or good night. Did I kiss my girl this morning? Yes I did and she has warm brown sugars that rival everything Bath and Body Works has to offer!
I called my mom on my way home to see if she had heard anything about an accident involving this student. She'd look it up on the internet and let me know. I asked the assistant band director when I went back to drop off Alisa's instrument. I was only getting bits and pieces: she was not hit by a car but thrown from a car and suffered a head injury. My mom called back. Yes, she remembered the newscast: 16-year-old driver, car full of teenagers (only supposed to have one other teen in the car), returning from a game Friday night; dark road; no one wearing seatbelts; Kelsee the only casulaty. How does a mother make arrangements to bury her child before she's shopped for prom dresses and made arrangements for college? How does a mother give herself permission to let go of the child to whom she never gave permission to date? How do you say good-bye to a child who has barely said Hello to the world? As a mother my heart aches for Kelsee's mother. I can't even imagine.
We live in a world where we have so much at our disposal in an instant. We speak a name into our cell phone, and the phone dials and connects us in an instant. Car-pooling to work? Hop in the HOV lane and bypass the traffic jam to arrive to work in an instant. We snap a photo with our digital camera or cell phone and see an image in an instant: no waiting around to finish up a roll of film then drop it off for processing which used to take several days. Days like today also remind us that what we have and who we love today could be gone in an instant.
Please join me in praying for the family of Kelsee R. Williams and remember to cherish the ones your love while you can. Until next time...