It is with a heavy heart that I chose this blog subject today. Not 24 hours ago a young girl lost her life in a car accident. This young girl was a student a Miami East. . . a fellow Viking. Her young age, 15, was enough of a reason to feel devestated and heart broken, but the memories that it brought back, of the pain my family experienced in 2003 for the same reason, was enough to bring me to my knees. Let me begin this post by saying how truly sorry I am to those who knew this young woman and are feeling the devestation with every fiber of their bodies. What I hope this post will bring is a little peace and clarity.
As most of you know my family lost someone in 2003. He was 15 and it was a car accident. It was unbearable pain and still is devestating to this day, but there was one thing that helped my family get through such an incomparable experience; the community we live in.
I went to Miami East from Kindergarten to Senior class of 2006. My dad graduated from Miami East, as did his brother and all three of his sisters. My grandma was a Viking and my grandpy was a part of the first class to graduate as Miami East Vikings. It is safe to say our family is comprised of Viking alumni.
When you go to a school that is small like Miami East, you typically live in a community that is small, tight knit, and where everyone knows everyone, and if you don't know one person, you're sure to know their relation. Small towns like Miami East are all about football Fridays, county fairs, and supporting everyone around you.
When Nick and Zach passed away, I think what was almost as surprising as the fact that the world does not stop spinning when you lose someone you love, is that people you don't even really know, on a personal basis, come out of nowhere with plates of food, flowers to brighten your rooms, and hugs to warm your heart. In a community such as Miami East, the day after an accident will result in classroom time being spent talking about your favorite memories of those who you've lost, gymnasiums being turned into rooms for counsel, if you so choose, and hallways become a sort of dance floor in which students are embracing each other for long moments, friends are saying "I love you" as if it's their last words, and teachers become a part of the student body. Because in a small community like Miami East everyone is touched by a tragedy. . . whether the life lost was your best friend, your boyfriend/girlfriend, or just someone you smiled at occasionally. . . if you aren't in school when someone is taken, then you likely know their parents or grandparents, you may have baby sat them when they still needed help going potty, you could very well have screamed their name out loud at the last football game, but the bottom line is. . . each life within this small community is effected.
I didn't know the young woman who was taken too soon and I don't know the young man who is in the hospital right now, but I know what their friends are feelings, I know how their family gatherings will be altered, I know that school hallways will never look, feel, or smell the same ever again. But we are Vikings. We are strong and we have each other.
In a world when tomorrow has never been guaranteed, I hope that we can each take comfort in the fact that we come from a community that was built on strength, we come from a community that supports us in our endeavors, we come from a community that will stand together in a time of crisis, hold each other up in times of despair, and pull from one another the strength to make it through tonight, wake up tomorrow, and face the day.
January 24th will never be the same for me, just like November 27th will never be the same for the families and friends of Christen and Josh. But they will always be remembered, forever be loved, and eternally be Vikings.
In a community like Miami East, everyone is famous in this small town.
Tell the ones you love that you love them, hug your people every chance you get, and always. . . keep your face to the sunshine.