First, there was the frightening news last Tuesday that one of my daughter's friends since they were four had collapsed while riding his bike and the hospital, unable to revive him, had to put him in an induced coma and on a ventilator. All the kids and their parents gathered and prayed, even the agnostics and atheists among us. We prayed that when our boy woke up, his brain would be undamaged despite the length of time it had been without oxygen. And we prayed for his parents, our friends, unable to imagine what they were going through. Two days later, when the doctors stopped administering the coma medicine, our boy did wake up, and though he could not recall what had happened, he was otherwise completely himself. God, we exhaled. He will now need a device implanted in his chest to regulate the beating of his heart, as that was the cause of the terror. He will also have to undergo weeks of physical therapy, but he's going to fine.
Just as I was breathing normally again, on Sunday came the news that my niece and goddaughter who lives in Yellowknife in the far north of Canada, had died in a car accident overnight. Drunk driver with no license. She had been traveling home from spending a few joyful days with family in Halifax and Vancouver, driving through Alberta on the way back to Yellowknife with her partner of 14 years. They’d been together since she was 19. She had just earned her masters in social work, they'd just bought a house, everything was in a good place. Her love was driving, their dog between them. The impact came on the passenger side. My niece sustained massive trauma and died at the scene. Her love suffered a broken arm and a shattered life. My niece's mom and sisters and his parents flew to him in Edmonton, where he had been transported so that a well-equipped hospital could perform needed surgery. I have no idea what comes next for a family that is now so broken. "It doesn't seem real," her sister told me. "Everybody else lived. Why didn't Christine live, too?"
Is it obscene to also celebrate what's happy? This week my daughter and her love texted the family chat that they'd picked a wedding date in July 2024 and settled on their dream venue, so now everything on that front is becoming real. I imagine the news of the week made them decide not to waste time, to embrace the good and give their loved ones some joy to look forward to, reasons to dance.
The image here is a digital piece by artist Nettie Beatrice, posted for no reason other than I love the colors. Everyone here is reeling. Hold your loved ones close.