I had barely entered the foyer of our junior high when I caught pieces of whispered conversations that were making their way around the clusters of students. An accident.... It was bad... Someone was hurt.... I searched out my friends. When they turned around I could see tears in their eyes.
"It is Lisa."
|Lisa in her last school |
picture 7th grade
Lisa... we had gone to school since kindergarten. Tiny. Petite. Always smiling. Quiet. Shy. Soft Spoken. Kind. We all knew that her home life was full of struggle and abuse. We saw it in her eyes, but she rarely talked about it.
Stunned I listened as they told me she had been hit by a drunk driver while waiting on the bus. She was killed instantly. A few minutes later the bell rang and our principal told us all to go to class. All of us stared at each other like we weren't sure how to walk. Of course now I know that we were in shock. Somehow we made it to our first period class where a brief announcement was made about Lisa's death and then we were expected to go on with our school day as usual. (Thank goodness schools handle grief in a much better way now.)
While I had been to the funerals of great uncles and distant relatives, going to Lisa's funeral was the first one that truly was so personal. The sight of her in her beautiful crimson Christmas dress in her casket is forever etched in my mind.
Fast forward 33 years...
Tuesday evening I receive a message from one of my friends letting me know one of our classmates had died. The events surrounding his death were quite tragic. While talking I can tell that he was very bothered. In the course of our conversation he tells me that he was there the morning Lisa was killed. He said he was on the school bus when the drunk driver went flying by them. He said that when they came around the corner the car was on top of her. Her parents were hysterical. Her two sisters were standing motionless and in complete shock. In his words the bus driver jumped up and began simultaneously praying and speaking tongues. He and another boy (our classmate who had just died) jumped off the bus and tried to pull the car off of Lisa. The wheels were still spinning. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't get the car to budget. What is imbedded in his mind is the site of Lisa's legs sticking out from under the car. One black buckled shoe on and one off as if a grotesque reenactment from the Wizard of Oz. He too remembers being ushered back on the bus where he was sent to school, given a pass for being late and then sent on to class and expected to go on with his day as usual.
We shared a grief over 33 years old as we remembered that day when Lisa was tragically taken by a drunk driver. We also grieved over the fact that our friend would so ironically choose a path for his life that led his life to be taken by alcohol as well.
Wise King Solomon wrote, “To everything there is a season… A time to weep...a time to mourn” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
This week has definitely been full of those times.