If you don't live in SD you may have seen it....it did make national news, but it was probably just a little blip that you saw and maybe you didn't think too much about it...other than maybe thinking to yourself "oh man...that's terrible" or something to that effect.
I've seen those blips in my newsfeed before....heard them on the radio.....seen short little newsclips. An article here or there about some person or family I don't know or don't have any connections with who had some tragedy happen. A house fire. A murder. A suicide. A terrible car accident. Maybe they all perished. Maybe just one of the children is left. Maybe it was a mother who lost all of her precious babies. Or maybe a dad took the lives of his wife and kids and then his own.
It's terribly sad but I can deal with it. I mean.....horrible things happen in the world. Sometimes people go off the deep end and sometimes families are simply taken way too soon in awful circumstances. It's part of living in a broken world.
Until it happens to someone you know.
Not just someone you know, but someone you grew up with. Someone whose family you spent a LOT of time with because her youngest sister was one of your best friends.
Sometimes tragedy hits you below the belt and takes the wind out of you. Takes a blow and you just don't even know what to do.
So you cry.
Tears fall for your hometown school who lost 4 beautiful children. They fall for your dear friend and her family who are enduring and going through grief like nobody can even imagine. Grief that can be paralyzing. Grief that can overtake their very being and press down until they feel like they can barely breathe. Tears fall for your own family and other friends and neighbors who you grew up with. They fall for the entire community and the long reaching arms of the overwhelming loss. They fall for yourself. The sadness can seem unbearable at times.
Attending three funerals in one day, including a community service that was held for the precious children lost was one of the most emotional and exhausting things I've done in a long time. The community service was beautiful and truly honored and celebrated their lives - stolen too soon. Seeing kids from the community having to come to grips with the fact that their friends were truly gone was heart wrenching. These beautiful little lives that were turned upside down overnight. Once safe in their small town and loving families. They all the sudden didn't have the assurance they were safe....their friends weren't, after all.
No child should ever have to feel this way.
I'm so grateful that my own kiddos are far enough removed that they didn't need to know any of the details. They knew mommy was sad. They knew that mommy's friend lost her sister and nieces, nephews, and brother-in-law. They knew there was a fire. But because they didn't know the children and they didn't personally know the family, my husband and I were able to protect them from the unsettling feelings that way too many kiddos in a small town in South Dakota are now living with since their reality changed.
One thing that my husband and I have talked a lot about in the last couple days is how we've both felt more loving to one another since this all happened. We are both striving to show each other how much we mean to each other, and we are purposing to love on our kids more than ever. Not that we didn't do that before, but it feels more urgent now, if that makes sense.
And it doesn't end there. Over the weekend I spent a lot of time with my friend and her family, and I didn't hold anything back in expressing my love for them all, and for my own extended family and other friends too.
Life is way too short. Nobody knows when their last day on this earth will be. You might not be here tomorrow. Someone you love may not be here three hours from now.
I implore you. DON'T waste time in needless anger. Don't hold grudges. Be quick to forgive and even quicker to love. Show the people you love that you love them and don't take anything for granted.
I can guarantee that my friend's family wishes they would have told their sister and those beautiful kiddos even one more time how much they meant to them. Given them one more hug. I'll bet they would take back any unkind things that were ever said, and regret any angry feelings that were ever felt.
The tears are slowing now, but the reality of living without people they love is setting in.
Please pray for anyone affected by the tragedy, and especially the families of those lost.
Also? Love on those you love. Call your mom. Hug your sister. Tell your husband how grateful you are for him. Cuddle with your kiddos. Send your dad a card. Take your friend out for coffee. Forgive anyone who has wronged you.
Don't wait. You don't know when it will be too late.