I wish I could have spent the last ten days hidden among the wild things along the bank of the stream behind my home. Having been confronted by a terrible tragedy that can happen to any of us as we make our way out in the world, it’s made me wish for the greenery of summer to hide me away and the babble of the brook to keep my ears from hearing.
A severely impaired child and a grown-up young man lost their mother ten days ago. A man lost his wife and almost lost his own life. That little girl almost lost her father as well. A family lost a daughter and a sister. The world lost a beautiful woman. A community lost a friend and a participant. My street lost a neighbor and I lost one of my next-door neighbors.
We lost her to a traffic accident. A severe one and something that could happen to any of us. It was violent and her death was instant. In the blink of an eye, so many lives were affected and her life was snuffed out forever. We don’t realize how our lives affect so many others.
It’s made me do some real thinking about the fragility of life and how we take our lives for granted. We waste time, days, even hours and minutes, that we shouldn’t waste. My neighbor walked out her door never dreaming she would never be back. I’m sure much was left undone. Things she wished she’d said and done. She didn’t know time was coming to an end for her. Most of us don’t. Many of us procrastinate doing the important things. Telling people we love them. Making arrangements for people we care for. Spending more time with our friends and family.
There are things in life which you wish you could unsee and unhear. I wish I could unhear the news about my neighbor. I wish I could unsee the look in her husband’s eyes when I saw him today. Still in shock but with pain deep inside. So many people’s lives will never be the same.
As for me, these are the first words I’ve written since I heard the news. My fingers and my mind have been frozen. I think of the poem called “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry and wish I could be at that babbling brook behind my house and that I could unhear the terrible news about my neighbor.
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief… For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— “The Peace of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry