Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"There, But For The Grace of God, Go I"

As my stomach churned, I read the words over, even clicked on the little arrow to watch the two-minute video clip again. I searched for some explanation, some reassurance that a mistake had been made.

On July 26, a 36-year old mother said "goodbye" to her husband and left a family camping trip with her two children and three nieces. By the husband's account, everything seemed fine when she left. Her brother later said that some time early afternoon, she called to say she was not feeling well; he said he asked her to "stay put" and he'd come to get them. Two hours later, eight people were dead in a fiery collision.
By the following week, autopsy results had shown the woman was alcohol impaired and had a level of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, that indicated she had smoked 15 minutes to an hour before the accident.

This is not about passing judgement, this is about grief and incomprehension. This is about trying to "wrap my head around" facts that seem so contradictory, actions that seem so incongruous with reason, and the enormity and pain of such a loss.

I am a total stranger to these people, and I am having difficulty processing this news. What must they be going through? Add to that the media attention and public scrutiny?

Like most parents, I would assume, I read this and think of my own children. I think of the agony of losing them under a thoroughly accidental, random situation, but a seemingly irresponsible choice on the part of someone I love and care for? What type of darkness could drive a person to make such an error in judgement? Was this something she'd been hiding from her family? an ongoing illness? or, like many families, had they tried to conceal it and deal with it on a personal level?

We all make mistakes, some behind closed doors, some with tragic, public consequences. To pretend that my discretion is any better than hers is to say that I have walked in her shoes, I have been in her head, and I have made all of the right choices. The truth is, I don't know the place she was in, nor can I say that my past actions could never have caused such tragedy.

Let us all be quicker to love than to condemn. Let us thank God our indiscretions have not been laid before the world in the form of such a tragedy. Let us ask God's forgiveness for the sins we have committed, and let us thank Him for the mercy shown to us through Christ's death and resurrection.
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