It was one of the worst years in our town’s life… And now it was coming back to haunt us.
The school year of 2010-1011 had been a rough year for our small town. Previously that summer six motorcyclists had tragically collided with a minivan that had crossed into their lane killing five. While these did not affect the stories directly, the one shortly following did.
In August a teenager, Evan, crashed into a house killing him almost instantly. He was one our this football town’s football players.
And then in January 2011 came the worst news of all. Four more football players were joyriding when they lost control of their vehicle. All four were killed and the local high school went into mourning.
Almost everyone knew at least one of the players and were affected in some way.
My own daughter, Nicole, knew one closely and was familiar with the others. She, along with hundreds of others, walked the hallways in a state of shock and disbelief. The tragedy squelched her desire to get her license…… and I hear it affected others that way, as well.
When I look up the word accident on dictionary.com, I get the following:
ACCIDENT: an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty
Whether it be a tragic accident or suicide, it can start a chain of events unforeseen. Teenagers tend to believe that they are immortal and nothing can touch them and, when it does, they react from such a state of shock and disbelief that sends them spiraling into a pit of depression and guilt.
And yet the heartbreaking aftermath was still lying there, dormant, for six more years.
Cole was one of the students who were supposed to be in that car but had switched vehicles at the last moment. He would never forget that as he tried to come to terms with his best friends’ deaths. It haunted him. It haunted him for six years.
Cole was an excellent athlete winning multiple awards and citations. He had a promising career ahead of him, and yet the demons of guilt and depression were still there. His family tried to get him help but on December 30, 2016, Cole took his own life.
And we are finding out that others are still being tortured by the same demons. It’s heart-wrenching.
As an Ovarian Cancer Survivor, I am all too familiar with survivor’s guilt. It eats at you and sometimes you cannot control it. It becomes an insidious monster that consumes all hope. A Christian response would be that Christ is that hope but sometimes the demons pull you into a deep cavernous pit. It is often hard to see the light for the darkness.
Finding someone to talk to that understands who will listen and understand can be a difficult task.
I encourage you that if you know of a teenager who has experienced a loss, to be their friend. Let them lead the conversation but, above all, let them know you are there to listen if they choose to talk about it and, if they do choose to talk, refrain from giving advice or telling them how they should feel.
Make your ear attentive to wisdom and incline your heart to understanding. Proverbs 2:2