On Monday February 20th four young beautiful college students lost their lives in a tragic car accident on a treacherous stretch of freeway in Northern Minnesota. My heart like so many others broke upon hearing the news and I once again found myself asking the question of WHY? Regardless of all the grief and loss I have faced over the years I could not wrap my head around this senseless accident and I could not get the vision of these beautiful girls out of my mind. Perhaps it was the fact that they were so young. Perhaps it was because they had just spent a wonderful long holiday weekend at their homes with family and friends with no clue life was about to end. Perhaps it was because they had so much life ahead of them. Perhaps it was because it hit too close to home and it could have been my daughters Danielle and Jordan in that car and heading back to school.
Days later the vision still haunts me and while I cannot find any answers to the WHY or make sense of this loss it served as a painful reminder that we truly don’t know what the future holds. The only real thing anyone has is this very moment and just as life can be good in that moment it can drastically change in the next. Those girls were full of life and like so many other kids they said goodbye, got into that car and headed back to school and towards their dreams. They never made it and their lives were cut short. We all know this at some level yet we easily forget to embrace and appreciate every moment. Life gets busy and we get distracted with where we have been and where we are going versus where we are right NOW. It is hard to focus on those things that are most important and truly matter when we are drowning in stress, regret or worry. I am guilty as charged but every time something like this happens it is a cruel wake-up call that we waste too much time on so many things that mean nothing in the end.
Life is hard and yes, life is stressful and busy. It is true that we are often faced with things that hurt, things that are tough to forgive and things that make us angry but I honestly cannot think of anything that would be more difficult than to lose a child. Four families lost their children on that snowy freeway and their lives will be forever changed. It could have been my girls in that car and I cannot fathom the stress, pain and grief that would bring. I hope and pray I never have to find out.
There are no easy answers born out of such a tragic loss but let it help each of us to remember that life is so precious and life is so short. Life is unpredictable and we truly never know when it will be our last moment. Instead of wasting those precious moments lost in anger, fear, hate, guilt, blame and shame direct your heart towards kindness, forgiving, happiness, hope and love. Celebrate life. Love hard. Laugh more. Share your feelings. Take nothing for granted. Find gratitude. Follow your dreams. Dance. Hug. Love. Don’t assume you will have tomorrow to say I love you to your children or to give them one last hug.
Don’t waste another moment but instead make the most out of every moment you and your children are given. Wherever you are and regardless of what you are doing, give your children and those you love a hug right now. Find a way to tell them you love them and do it often. Remember, in the end it is LOVE that matters the most. Never take it for granted.
My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to those families and friends that lost Danielle, Megan, Lauren and Jordan and to all of the many young and innocent lives lost. And to my beautiful children and so many others, I love you.