That's how I have felt this week.
Worn and bittersweet.
Sometimes no other word but a German one will do. There is something strong, dark and solid about the Germanic language. If Japan is a reflection of my light and joy and brightness, Germany seems to remain the deep roots of melancholy, stubbornness and attempted-perfection that I cannot shake loose from within my heritage.
Work had been quite overwhelming last week. I led a 3-day technical training class for our state-wide system and networking new-hires. I've been pretty stressed out about it. Making sure I had enough materials and appropriate content. Fussing over the equipment (drivers, drivers, drivers...another post to be). Concerned that I really wasn't the right person to be leading the training. Fear that the attendees would think it was all a waste of their time. The usual stuff our family is famous for thinking about.
Wednesday, Lavie paged me during the training letting me know she was at the hospital. After sending the class out on a break, my heart returned to normal when she explained that she had taken a co-worker there as it looked like a birth would be imminent. Her friend had no other family available to help her, so Lavie stuck with her through the whole birthing process like a champ. Everything turned up well, and eventually grandma showed up after it was all over. That was a pretty exciting event for Lavie and she was exhausted just from providing emotional support to her friend. A new baby enters the world. How hopefully and joyous.
The next morning we woke up to reports of 4 teens killed in a early-morning accident.
Living on the East side of the Houston metro area, we knew very intimately the location. I used to drive over a set of similar tracks just a block or two over from where this accident occurred. We got ready for the day and went on.
Mid-morning Thursday I got another emergency page from Lavie in the middle of my training class. Another break.
Lavie broke the news to me that the accident involved a daughter of one of our early-newlywed-days friends. She and her cousin were two of the girls killed. The daughter was just a little bit older than our Alvis.
So since Thursday we have been following the story and our friends through it all. Here in the Houston area, it has been one of the lead-stories on all the news outlets for several days. I even saw a bit of it make CNN. It's been horrible.
The facts are still filtering out, but the basics are well known. The kids stole the SUV. All the kids snuck out of their homes. The parents knew something was up, but despite their best parental attempts, failed to thwart the night-time joy-ride. A tank-car sat across the roadway at a marked, but not lighted/armed railroad crossing. The under-aged kid driving came flying down the road at speed..maybe trying to get the girls back home and didn't see the tank-car and went under it at speed. Two kids were critically injured. Four were killed, including the one we knew.
As I said, I know these tracks well. When I was dating Lavie, I would often travel across them; many times at night. Once I forgot about them in my hurry to get to night-time hay-ride community event and flew over them. The car went airborne. Fortunately I didn't wreck, but the marshmallow yams in my trunk didn't turn out so well. They flipped over and ruined my high-school letterman's jacket.
I know and understand the crossing warnings met the current federal/TxDOT requirements, but the community had been fighting for years and years to get lighted signals and/or arms put in, to no avail. I can't hold any animosity against the railroad operators...it's just a shame that the laws, while met, seemed to be not quite sufficiently safe.
That said, we all know the kids were clearly in the wrong, on so many levels. Yet their loss remains absolute. There are no winners here. Only losers at this moment. Maybe, hopefully, faithfully something will abide for good out of this tragic event
Lavie and Alvis went to the scene on Friday to attend one of the memorial events with the other community kids and family members. For now, a community and mothers and fathers and friends continue to mourn.
Then my bro and I drove out past San Antonio yesterday to help get our mom's last-minute details taken care of. She is moving back here to this area to be closer to us next week. I drove her car back Saturday afternoon in pouring rain from San Antonio to Houston.
It will be good to get her back here. She moved out there to care for her parents who have both passed on some years back. She has been alone. Now she will be near us again.
As I drove I-10 East homeward bound, I could see the weather front drawing nearer, rapidly coming to intersect my path. Behind my back was bright sunshine. Ahead, impeding darkness and clouds. The fields and trees were bright green and the farmhouses and buildings on the hills reflected the brightest light as they seemed to hunker down as the blankets of storms prepared to tuck them in. Seemingly working hard to be as bright beacons for those who choose to turn into the storms.
Today is Father's Day. I've called my dad and wished him well. Lavie and Alvis have worked to make this day as special as it can be for me as well. Our friend will spend this day, daughterless except for photos and stories and the lingering scent of her in her room.
Tomorrow, life and work continues and I prepare for yet another training class to lead, which I will again feel a bit inadequate to teach. Although, last week's class turned out quite well in the end. I've got a lot of blog-posting to catch up on as well.
But at this moment, under more clouds and gray, I will hug our daughter more than usual and drink what will hopefully be my last cup of sadness for a while.