A few minutes after I gave our Emma bird to a new family, a major crash occurred on Cedar Run in front of our road. Within a half hour lights and three ALS units showed up along with an extrication vehicle. The dogs began crying and whining and I wondered if they sensed the tragedy unfolding so near the house.  In contrast, our girls skipped about blissfully unaware of the seriousness behind the dancing lights and sirens outside.

As I tried to fall asleep on the couch, listening to the large trucks outside, unable to sleep while I knew they worked in the bitter cold to free some unfortunate soul or body, I remembered suddenly this was the anniversary of another fatal crash.

While in the eighth grade, waiting for someone to pick me up, after all the buses had cleared the parking lot and the school had quieted. In walked a young boy, Nick, who was in the sixth grade. He played around the trash barrel and amused himself while he waited for a ride. I smiled and watched him. He smiled back.  His eyes were a remarkable blue hue. I thought to myself, “You have a full life ahead of you.”

The next morning, my stomach hurt and I stayed in bed. A call came in around 8am. It was a friend who told me a boy had been struck by a hit-and-run driver and killed. Another boy was in critical condition. The boy who died was the same boy with bright eyes who played before me without a care in the world. The same boy with a future before him.

It just so happens, I was with someone involved in the crash yesterday. The crash did not come up in conversation and yet later that day I was reminded of the fragility of life and reminded of the little boy who first taught me about the finality of death.

At Nick’s funeral, they sang Silent Night while they carried his casket out of the church. To this day, I cannot hear that song without feeling the same sense of horror and sadness I felt in that moment watching the casket; not a large casket like I had seen at funerals of relatives, but one that was my size; small, thin, fragile passing in the quiet space filled with the mournful voices of a community grieving.