I recently attended my niece’s wedding. She is 20, and just a gentle, honest and good soul. Her wedding was a joyous time of reminiscing for my family, a time to reflect on her short, yet full life thus far, and to dream of the possibilities that will unfold in the coming days and years. I can’t describe the mix of emotions that flooded me: pride, wonder and awe, a fullness of heart. I cried many tears for many reasons these past few weeks leading to Hannah’s big day. And, one reason for the tears is the utter chaos of the universe.
You see, walking past my parents’ fridge this weekend, I also saw an old graduation announcement for Kelly Perkins, the child of my high school friends, Debbie and Enoch. Kelly played volleyball with my niece, Hannah, and was a neighbor of my parents in the small town I grew up in, and where my brothers stayed and raised their children. Kelly is 19 and, now, always will be. Her life ended in an instant not 30 minutes after she woke her little brother for school. Icy roads. Inexperience. Two weeks ago, her life ended in a blink.
The juxtaposition of this event with my niece’s celebration really surfaced the utter unpredictability of life. It hurts. It hurts to know we got to celebrate an event that Kelly’s family never will. Heck, it even hurt that we got to see a sunset that Kelly didn’t.
I don’t know why her death has struck me so. I’ve lost countless young people in my life and career. I can’t put my finger on what makes this worse than any of the rest of them. But, it is. My heart is so heavy today.
I wonder if that loss was just the tipping point older people get to? Maybe the heart can take a certain amount of sorrow, then, boom. It’s full and can’t take any more.
I just don’t know.