I feel before I kick off this post that I need to make a few disclaimers. One, I acknowledge and respect the tradition of "not speaking ill of the dead." Two, it irks me to no end when people come out of the wood work claiming to be better friends than they were with someone who has died. Three, I acknowledge that all people feel a persons death differently--it is all valid even if they knew them only slightly. Human emotions are messy and not always logical.
While I was spending time with my husband the night of Aayla's birthday, a high school classmate was killed. She got out of work at 11pm and was driving down a dark country road two (country) blocks from the house in which I grew up. She saw a deer, swerved to miss it, hit a pothole, then proceeded to crash into a tree on the side of the road. All these facts are based on the newspaper articles on the subject. She was relatively okay. She was on the phone with 911 when she was hit by a car. That car left the scene. She is the mother of two little girls; the youngest of which is the same age as Aayla.
My relationship with Erica was nothing significant. I really didn't know her. She was best friends with one of my best friends in high school so I would hear things about what she was up to every now and again. She was in my art classes all four years of high school. I saw her just about every day in that class and had a very casual "hi, how are ya?" type of relationship. I never had anything against her, and as far as I know vice-versa, we just had different lives and made different choices. I'm not just saying this because she's gone and you're supposed to say nice things about people that are gone; she was a sweet person with a tender heart.
Her death has become a sort of obsession this past week. It leaves me...hollow? I knew her. That's always a shocker because it brings death right up in your face and shows you that it could be anyone. She was a young, healthy mother--which makes me think, if it could happen to her... it could happen to me.
On a less self-centered note, it makes me so utterly sad for her babies. I know that one is in elementary school, but I'm sure Erica looked at her as her baby... as I'm sure I will always see my girls as my babies. She should have been at the beginning of her life. She should not have been at the end of it. She will miss all those special "firsts" in her daughter's lives. She will miss everything. I feel like I'm mourning her death but then I remind myself this must be just a fraction--just a small model imitation--of what her family and friends must be feeling. I feel anger that it happened like it did and that the person left without taking responsibility for the life that ended before their eyes. Life is not something you can just shrug off. I feel anger that it happened where it did. I can't quite verbalize it completely, but I almost feel as if I was betrayed by one of my own. I feel as if I know everyone in that area. Its not true, but I feel it nontheless. That road isn't a road you use as a "just passing through" road, so most likely it was someone from the area. There is a chance I know the person that did this horrible, horrible thing. That shakes me.
Oddly enough, my heart also goes out to the person who did it... a limited extent. Can you imagine traveling along on the backroads, too fast like we all do, and having the shock of seeing someone in the road? I've almost hit a few deer driving those back roads, and while I was scared about ending the life of the deer, it was more startling because I wasn't expecting to see them BAM in front of my headlights. How horrific to see a human instead of a deer. How horrific to have it register that it was a person you just saw... and have hit. How horrific to know before you even get out of your car that the person most likely is dead... and its all your fault. I can't even imagine the sheer terror that must have gone through that driver's mind. She most likely (judging by the news articles alone) was standing in the road so it was an accident (again, based on the news articles). My heart aches for the position this driver was put into. That is as far as my sympathy goes. That someone could see that a life was just extinguished... and drive away? I can see being so scared you just have the flight reaction... but even in the clarity that comes with the rising sun... still the silence? I cannot fathom how this driver thinks they are going to survive with that kind of trauma on their conscience. It would drive me to either confession or suicide. I really hope that whoever it is, even if its someone that I know, comes forward and takes responsibility for the life that was taken.
My heart is heavy. My gut is churning. My prayers go out to God--who has a plan for each of us--for her babies, fiance, & family. Such a tragedy.