One of my daughter’s classmates died this week.
It was a tragedy–when someone dies at the threshold of adulthood, it’s always a tragedy. So much potential, so many hopes and dreams and expectations, vanished. We never expect it. Death is something old people worry about. When you’re a teenager, it doesn’t even compute. You’re so very full of life, bulletproof, immortal.
The young man was involved in an automobile accident. He was in a coma for a couple of days, but regained a level of consciousness and was responding to verbal instructions. The prognosis was hopeful, but as so often happens in trauma cases, when things turn for the worse, it happens very quickly.
I was with my daughter and a group of her other friends and classmates, who were cheerfully working on a school project, when the news of his death was delivered. It sucked the air out of the room. She went immediately to comfort those closest to the young man. I was very proud of her for that. She put her own sorrow on the shelf for a while, and didn’t take it back again until we returned home.
It’s not her first brush with death. She’s lost grandparents and other relatives, but losing a peer, someone you’ve hung out with at the local burger joint on the weekends, a person who’s shared your laughs and poached your french fries, is a much different thing. You don’t feel quite so immortal any more.
I don’t know if untimely deaths happen disproportionately at this time of year, but the circumstances magnify the impact. We celebrate the coming of hope and new life during the season of Christmas, and now another, more somber memorial is added to the calendar. From this day forward, we’ll have to confront that sadness before the celebration.
As you prepare for Christmas this year, please take a moment to pray for the family of a teenage boy in Olathe, Kansas, and the students of Olathe Northwest High School, that God will enfold them with His love and provide them comfort in the midst of their sorrow.