q. i. f.?

Break

Another couple I’ve known from high-school age — school classmates, in this case — have lost a grown daughter, I learned yesterday. This time, a far more terrible loss: a death from car collision. The thought of it is crushing.

The two circumstances hardly bear comparing, you might say — you’d say not without justification. But I bring it into the picture here not just to remark on coincidence. The latter occurrence adds dimension to my thoughts about the former. I’ll come back to it when the occasion’s right to continue.

As with Pastor Chuck, I’m not close to the couple, Alyssa’s parents. We went to a very small school together, though; our graduating class were fewer than 70. They were prominent members of the class, among the most popular, friendly with all (she to a remarkable degree), and already steady when I joined the school. They married just a few years later. He and I both went into construction right out of high school, curiously, but in very different ways: I working for a man in my church with a job in drywall that was supposed to pay my way through Bible college, he with a spot in a family business that he and his brother would take over, still in their young twenties, and build with some success. I ran into him one morning on a site near D.C. a couple of years into that job experience, much to the surprise of both of us. I can still recall some of the conversation — and I’ll come back to this later. They were just married, maybe, or about to be.

The drywall jobs I was sent to were spread all over a four-county area, mostly to the west of Baltimore. Two developments I spent a lot of hours on were in Carroll County, northwest of the city, where this suddenly shattered family have made their home for a long time. (Not far from where he grew up, I seem to recollect). The road where their daughter was hit Monday I drove many times around age twenty, back and forth to Taneytown, often struggling to keep myself awake, a Big Gulp of Mountain Dew in the seat next to me, more than once jolted alert (I can feel the adrenaline surge now) by awareness of a car coming on fast and my having begun to drift onto the line. The danger on that rural stretch quickly turning commuter thruway was plain enough. More compelling than any such present danger, of course, the pressures to keep the boss et al. happy, and the great idea of the life I expected to live.

Rest in peace, sweetheart.

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