A girl in our community died last week.
She was 18 years old. She graduated the catholic high school in town just this past May. She was said to be full of life and happiness. And she died.
Apparently, drugs are involved. I am not sure what kind, and at this point - does it really matter? But, from what I have read in the condolences and comments on various online sites, it was drugs that did it.
I didn't know this girl. Although I can just imagine now that I probably crossed her in the street at some point in our lives. I could have easily drove right past her in parking lot at Ella's Preschool, since the schools are located nearby. Or, perhaps she was in line behind me at the McDonald's once or twice. Maybe she was the teenager I "shhhh'd" at the movies that one time last year. Or, she could have grabbed a coffee at Starbucks with a friend of hers once, as I smiled at their friendship from across the room. Maybe, even, I shook her hand in church during the sign of peace, once or twice.
Whenever it was, I probably have seen her in the 11 years I've lived in this community.
But now, she is gone.
I wish I could have saved her, you know? I do this . . . hear about a death of someone and wonder if I could have done something to change the outcome. Like the tragic massacre at a nearby Lane Bryant store in 2008. I often wonder if I could have been there, perhaps I could have talked the killer out of it. Or perhaps I could have persuaded one of the ladies shopping that maybe the clothes she was buying didn't quite look right . . . perhaps she should buy her blouse somewhere else . . . and she could have left promptly, and been saved. Or the classmate of mine, who I haven't seen in over 20 years, who passed last year. Perhaps I could have done something to help him.
And this young, 18 year old girl.
Maybe we, as a community, could have gathered around her and showed her the way. Maybe we could have convinced her that life is so much more without the influence of what she was using.
I worry about my own children. How will I "save" them? How will I raise them to make the right choices, the safe choices, in their lives? Katie, who is so easily persuaded by her friends . . . will I be able to teach her to make the right choice and not follow what a peer might be doing? Or Ella, who is so stubborn and thinks she is invincible? How do I teach her that yes, something could actually bring her down, if she doesn't make the right choice?
I worry. Constantly.
But, I pray, too.
And today, I pray for my children, and this young 18 year old girl who has left this world far too soon. May her soul be at peace, and may her family know that the lesson of her death will play loudly in my mind, and the minds of so many like me.
Wishing you a safe and peaceful day, my friends.