A nest of nightmares

Posted on January 14, 2008
Filed Under Commentary | 1 Comment

            The highway accident that claimed the lives of seven high school basketball players and a teacher returning to Bathurst Friday night is a nest of nightmares. The driver, his daughter and two players survived when the team van went out of control on the icy highway and slammed into an oncoming truck.

            Every loving parent’s worst nightmare is the thought of losing a child. Young, healthy people are all beautiful. When accident or war takes even one, we all die a little.

            In a tight little society like a high school, the loss of seven students is akin to the kind of loss classes might have had in WW I or WW II.

            As one of my children pointed out, most healthy young people that age have girlfriends and boyfriends. Most of them will never even have contemplated such a thing.

            The thought of being some part of the cause of such loss is another nightmare. A teacher, coach and volunteer driver who gave of his talent, time and example for decades was at the wheel when the van veered from his control.

            His wife was the adult teacher who died. His daughter was a survivor.

            A lifetime of contribution to young people and the community will have turned from warm memories and laughter to cold ashes and agony for that man.

            Nor can we imagine the horror of the images that will forever haunt the mind of the driver of the truck the van hit.

            Police, emergency response technicians and hospital staff have training for and experience with accidental and violent injury and death but they are no less human than the rest of us. They undoubtedly performed as required at the time. They will suffer a special sense of helplessness. They choose the caring professions to protect and help people. As helpless witnesses to such tragic loss, their very purpose in life is, temporarily at least, made a shambles.

            Sir Francis Bacon, Shakespeare’s contemporary wrote “A man with a wife and children hath given hostages to fortune.”

            John Donne wrote “Do not send to ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”

            Fortune dealt us all a vicious blow on Friday night. We all grieve for the dead, their survivors, their community and ourselves.

            It is, to paraphrase St. John of the Cross, a dark night for our souls.




One Response to “A nest of nightmares”

  1. bloomingwriter on January 14th, 2008 11:02 pm

    Like you, and thousands of others in our region, I’m deeply saddened by this tragedy, and feel rather helpless by it all too. I’ve been a bit troubled by all the coverage on ATV, but maybe it’s cathartic for people. You’re right that it’s every parent’s nightmare…and we should all take the time to hug our own children–regardless of how old they are.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.