Friday, August 3, 2007

The day the sky was orange.

Every day I think of some other funeral that I have been involved with that makes my heart ache when I think of the circumstances.

My wife and I have no children so I can only imagine the actual pain that is caused when a parent sees a child of theirs die. In today's society with the elderly living longer due to medical advances and the awareness each of us have about our health it is a much more common event than at one time to see parents outliving their offspring. Considering the factor of age, the natural progression of life should cause the young to watch the older die. This is still primarily the case but in certain instances it seems to reverse itself and the ensuing pain that is caused seems unbearable. If you have followed what I've written you know that I have witnessed many deaths of children; leaving parents behind to try to cope with unimaginable grief.

The tale I'm about to recount didn't involve the death of one child, not two children, but three children all from the same household all at the same time. Once again a motor vehicle was involved; a car and a fuel tanker to be exact. The three children, 14, 16 and 20 were three of seven children born to this mother and father. They had been at their sisters home since 6:00 PM that evening. At 10PM they all decided it was time to head back home and piled into the 20 year old man's brand new car; they really could have walked, that's how close to home they were, less than 1 mile. No one, including the truck driver who survived was able to say exactly how or why, while on a straight run of road, it happened out of the blue. It appeared as if the car for no reason just drove underneath the fuel carrier as they passed each other. Their mother who had just walked outside after hanging up with her daughter whose house they had just left heard the loud crash and saw the fireball. She said for some reason she knew it was her babies and immediately began running towards the flames. According to their mother, it took an extremely long time for any rescue vehicles to arrive despite the fact that the fire house was just down the road. When I'm in a panic over something, minutes feel like hours so I can only imagine the feelings going through her mind as she watched helplessly as her children were being engulfed by fire. When rescue did arrive all they could do was try to contain the flames, they couldn't put the fire out. Needless to say there was practically nothing left of the 3 children or their vehicle and the forensics had a difficult time trying to prove their identities; but they did.

Their mother, father and four siblings were like zombies during the following days. They could barely walk let alone try to play hosts and hostesses at a funeral. The funeral itself was like a giant horde of ants just all pushing together trying to get a closer view of what was going on. All of the services were conducted in the local High School gym and it still couldn't accommodate all of the people in attendance; the cemetery was just as crowded. There were several people who passed out that day, the amount of tears that flowed would have been able to fill a swimming pool. We had the Sheriffs office involved for crowd control and was I glad they were there. When a death like this happens in a small community, that's when you can really see how they band together as neighbors. It was amazing; beautiful actually.

I have seen their parents several times after this happened and they always have a smile and a thank you for me. They say they are doing well, they say that they thank God that they know him, but you can still see the pain in their eyes. I'm sure that faith helps them to a degree but that doesn't change the fact that three, not one, three of their children were tragically taken from them in an instant with no good reason or even an explanation, that has to be the biggest test of faith imaginable.

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