I just saw an interview with one of the few survivors of the tragic fire in South Carolina. Seven young people lost. Six young survivors. And they are very young. Eighteen, nineteen and twenty... when you are that age, you believe yourself to be grown-up. But you aren't. You are still trying to figure it all out. Heck, at thirty I am still trying to figure it out, too. I don't remember his last name, but his first was Tripp. I don't think I have ever been moved like that before nor seen pure, raw grief displayed. He was poised and articulate, but he said he simply wanted to let the world know what kind of people those lost really were and honor them. Sometimes in tragedy we are forced to assume a much more mature role than we ever dreamed capable. Tripp lost his two best friends from grammar school along with his girlfriend he met on his first day of college classes. And he will live forever, I am sure, with horrific memories of that night. He will never be the same. He might rise above his grief and become someone far greater than he ever dreamed possible, but never the same.
And that's life. Ever changing, swiftly moving. Seems cruel sometimes that the world does not stop for your grief, your pain, your shame or guilt. I have never lost someone so dear to me. My grandfather died shortly after David was born, but it was his time to go. He was in his eighties and suffered a massive stroke. But what do you make of young death? How do you resolve that in your heart, in your mind? My only experience with young death was that of a childhood fixture in my life. He was not a friend, per say, but a constant in my life from the time I was seven, I think. We lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same school, our older brothers were friends and played sports together, and I had a never ending, heart breaking crush on him that lasted into my high school years. And then he was taken from the world tragically. And I know how that impacted me at the age of sixteen to have to face the fact that we will all surely die, this world is not permanent nor guaranteed. And it seemed so cruel at the time to watch life continue. I remember driving to the funeral and thinking how crazy it seemed that other people were still going on with things around me. Did they not know? But that's just the way life is. And there are millions of people grieving that like in the country today. Countless across the world. And it doesn't have to be about death. It's love lost through divorce, jobs lost, financial problems, the list could go on forever. I had the same feeling after my divorce. Shame, hurt, sadness like I had never experienced before. And everywhere I looked, life just kept going despite the fact I wanted it to stop so I could curl in a ball and cry myself to sleep. Those times, the tragedies of life, they shape us into who we are truly destined to be. They make us question life and ourselves. They make us question God. They test our souls and make us stronger. But they hurt. And the hurt never really goes away.
I cry as I write this, knowing that so many lives will never be the same from this one tragic house fire. So many young lives lost. For each is a family and a group of friends and teachers who have been touched by their young spirits. And it is nothing new. It happens all around us, everyday. Today, I pray for all those touched by this fire. But I also pray for those that are hurting who don't get the media coverage. For those suffering through the everyday tragedies of life.