I have never wished more I could transport photos to my blog. The impotence is great.
On my Timeline Page, though, is a picture of a fresh red rose across a railroad track.
It was poignant. Probably seminal. My son put it there. He was, let me see, 24 at the time? Yeah. He was. I was 52. Yes, 18 years. The family has put it out there, and all of us remember.
I had the day off from work for a doctor's appointment. He and I were going to have lunch. I drove up to the rented house he had by the university.
He walked out and said, "Tina is dead."
I said, "What?"
He repeated, then added, "A train hit her car."
Again, I said, "What?"
The third time, I comprehended what he was saying.
His best friend's sister had been hit by a train on her way to high school. Three more weeks, and she would have graduated. She wanted to be a doctor.
He said, "I need to go to the house."
I suggested he take some extra clothes. Often he had cared for their home in the past. It was a big house. I could see him staying overnight.
"I need to mow," he said. "Rain is coming. It needs to be mowed."
I drove him there. May 5. Yes, it needed mowing. It was a large property, and he got it done before the storms came.
My son wasn't the only one who knew where the key was. Women were in the house, straightening, polishing. Food was already arriving.
The family is a neat and tidy one. The accident happened before they even could make their bed. They were all at the hospital. Early morning dishabille. The women washed, cleaned, dusted. Not a teacup went unplaced. This was an active, loved family in the community. They did many things. They still do. We didn't know what was happening, but we all wanted to help. And the girl was in ICU in a coma. Not good.
I went to my doctor's appointment, came back and started a phone and food log. I came back, did the same, put out food and washed dishes, for three more days. I met family members who still mean a lot. Sometimes we laughed over bubbles in the sink, because this was a community experience, not only a death.
In the late afternoon,May 5, Tina was decreed brain dead. Her organs went to at least nine persons. That was the night of the huge, softball size, hailstones in the area. The parents walked out of the hospital's glass-roofed atrium only a half hour before
hail would destroy it. They were out of the danger zone before the hail started falling.
Rain and hail fell hard. I drove through flooding to get home. There were four days of heavy mourning. This was the first.
On the second, a man they didn't know graveled their dirt (post-storm mud) driveway so people could get in and out. They had never met him. On the second and the third days, so many brought food, did any chores, offered help. Fourth day was the funeral.
The parents have so far met a number of the recipients of their daughter's last gifts.
The recipient of her liver came to my son's wedding later. We were so glad to welcome him.
This was in no way a turning point. I say that, but that is probably not true. It was meaningful, for sure. These four days, however, are so important to all of us that shared them. This young girl saved the lives, changed the lives, of many by her death. Much good occurred...for one thing, there are crossing bars now over the road and track that killed her.
I wish you could see the metal train tracks, with a fresh red rose, lying over one track, another train coming any moment. The rose is so fragile, and fresh. The track, so implacable. My son put it there. I am sure he cried sometime. I never saw him. He took the rose, and placed it on the track, with no one watching. I wish I knew how to show you.
Maybe, since I cannot show you, it will not make you cry.