Written Tuesday, August 27:
I was going to blog this week about hair dye. About reluctantly turning older and dragging my feet in my family’s footsteps by turning grey in my 30s. Yesterday I looked at the box of Clariol sitting on my bathroom’s windowsill and imagined all the things I could say about it – all light and witty. Laughing at myself and the misfortunes of my aging silvery threads.
And then I woke up this morning to the sound of my name. It’s in these moments that you realize how little your spouse actually says your name. How foreign and urgent is sounds compared to the slew of nicknames and terms of endearment normally in its place. There was an edge to his voice that made my eyes shoot open, knowing I was not going to like what was coming next. But there’s no way I could have prepared for what it was.
Last night one of his band students was killed in a horrible accident on campus, the details of which you can read here. The weight of that moment will live with me a long time. It felt like all of the air had left the room and we just sat there in bed, glassy-eyed, saying “ohmygod” over and over and over. It didn’t seem real.
We immediately pulled out a computer to connect with other faculty and find out any other details not mentioned in the email. And there was a doozy. The report released the time of the 911 call…and it was right after the end of Joe’s band rehearsal. His trumpet case in hand as he came down the hill. The thought of it brings me to my knees. And it was the first day of school. A day normally filled with such joy and promise, marred by such a senseless tragedy. It makes my heart break.
USU was incredible by quickly putting together a memorial service this afternoon for grieving students and faculty to join with Eric’s family (including 6 of his 7 siblings) to share stories and sadness. It was so needed for everyone still reeling in shock.
There were many wonderful things said by the USU faculty, Joe included, but what was so powerful to me was hearing from his father, brothers and sister. Less than 24 hours after losing their beloved son and brother, they were standing in front of an auditorium full of people thanking them for being Eric’s family away from home and comforting us…US!…with their faith. I was floored. Their raw strength and love for one another was so palpable.
The band is honoring Eric by leaving his spot open on the field for the season. They’ve also given his parents his uniform. Such sweet reminders of the incredible loss to the program and the student body. Thursday is their first game and the band’s performance will be preceded by a moment of silence and a dedication to Eric. The students will also be wearing ribbons on their uniform. I wish I could be there, but I’ll be watching from home and thinking about this young man and the legacy he’s leaving behind in the hearts of his family and friends.
So, I won’t be blogging about my hair. I won’t be complaining about growing older. The grey only means one thing: life. A life lived. A life enjoyed. And I realize now just how precious that really is.
Please be thinking of Eric’s family and friends, Joe and all of the kids in the band, and the young men slacklining that day who I’m sure are overcome with their own grief and guilt. There are many articles about the accident online, but this one has great photos and speaks with his friends and fellow band-mates. Rest in peace, Eric.