Last month, right before Thanksgiving, there was a nasty accident in Sardine Canyon that took the lives of 3 people: 2 young parents and a 9 year old neighbor girl they had with them. Their own 5 year old daughter survived, but with several broken bones, and their toddler was unharmed.
Sardine Canyon is beautiful at all times of the year, but especially in the fall. When I worked in Ogden, I used to treasure my daily drive to and from work, even though it was an hour each way. However, I DREADED the winter: steep hills, sharp curves, horrible wind that created blizzard-like conditions at the "dry lake" part, insufficient snow plowing (especially early in the morning and late at night, the times I normally drove through), and a lack of a barrier between my lane and oncoming traffic, just to name a few things.
After I had Savannah, I continued to commute through the canyon, taking her with me to a daycare close to my work each day. Savannah was a very colicky baby and would literally SCREEEAAAMMM her way to and fro each day. She had a nasty habit on the return trip of finally falling asleep when we reached the reservoir, which was approximately 3 minutes away from home. Needless to say, between the screaming baby and the thought of winter, I decided it was time to find work closer to home. Although I had loved my job, I have never regretted giving it up, and it has been a huge relief to not drive through Sardine.
No sooner had I given up my job there then Tom got a job that required him to make the same tricky drive, and it scares me to death, especially after tragedies like those I mentioned at the first. He was literally cars behind the crash that killed the 3 I mentioned earlier. He had a front row seat to watch as the police and paramedics put up a shield to keep people from seeing the wreckage, and again as Life Flight landed. This accident really touched me, probably because of the young ages of all involved, to the little girl Savannah's same age who died. It's all too easy, driving through that canyon as often as we do, to imagine that it could have been one of us. To help ease my nerves, Tom calls me each day as he leaves work so that I will know, approximately, what time I should begin to panic... Usually each night, about the time that I reach for the phone to call and check up on him, I see his trusty headlights coming down the road.
Like most couples, we have our ups and downs and don't always see eye-to-eye on everything - often even major things. However, I am reminded how much I love him each night in the winter as I wait anxiously for him to arrive home. The problems we face fade in the light of imagining a life without him.
Christmas Eve this year also brought a reminder of just how precious life is. One of Josh's very best friends from high school, Eric Jorgensen, died in an avalanche while snowmobiling that morning. He was 22 and had just gotten married earlier this year. He and Josh and a group of about 4 others were basically inseparable: the kind of friends that kept in close touch even as life moved them in separate directions. A skiing accident claimed another of the boys, Chris, their senior year which I think made the remaining friendships all the more strong. They all knew firsthand how quickly things can change.
I am so sad about Eric and I cannot imagine the pain his family is going through right now, especially at this time of the year. Since Josh has joined the Army and moved on to start his own life, we do not see this group of great kids very often except when he comes home for a visit. Eric served a mission for his LDS church so had been gone for the last couple of years and hadn't been around for these visits.
Just over a month ago I was sitting in our living room on a weekend afternoon, arguing with the boys over something stupid (none of us can even remember now what it was). I saw a truck pull up and some shaggy guy got out and came to the door. Even after I answered it and he asked for Tom, I couldn't figure out who it was. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be Eric. He had grown a beard and mustache, and had just returned from hunting so he did not look like himself at all, but he truly looked content and happy! I am so glad now that I got to see him that last time.
I am once again reminded of just how precious life is, and how quickly it can be taken away from you. The last couple of years has brought me reminder after reminder of this fact, but it seems like I have amnesia, and it's so easy to get caught up in the annoying "little" things, especially with those we love like our kids and spouses. Like many parents, I find myself longing for the kids (teenagers especially!) to be grown and on their own. I am resolving this next year to spend more time enjoying their uniqueness, their goofy personalities, and even their annoying traits.
Josh is flying in on Monday for the funerals, and I am going to hug on his neck even if he calls me T-dawg or any of the other annoying nicknames he has for me (apparently guys don't EVER grow out of this trait). And with all the other kids, each time they drive me crazy I will try to remember: "there but for the grace of God go I."
Now go hug a loved one...