When death knocks at a neighbor’s door

It’s been over 10 years since I left Tallahassee, Florida to pursue a burning in my heart that brought me to Tennessee. My delight in video production started way back when I was a little kid but it really grabbed ahold of me in college. Soon after graduating, I had the opportunity to volunteer with a local church youth group and a lot of what I did with them was make videos. Each week I got to know the kids better and realized they were a pretty special group.

Well, in this group was a young girl, I think she was in middle school at the time. She had short, curly, blonde hair. I remember how much she smiled and was friends with a lot of other kids there. She had a spark and you could just see it, that she would be a spark in a lot of people’s lives. I didn’t know how, and I guess no one did at the time. At that age, and even the age of me and my friends who were also volunteering there, it’s hard to know exactly what mark we’ll leave on the world. We were all so young.

A few days ago this girl, now an adult, was killed. The moment I found out moved in slow motion. It’s not like I knew her anymore, but still, it was a total shock. No one ever wants to hear of someone dying way too young. She was 24, the reports say. Her death continues to weigh heavy on me. I can still barely believe it, and don’t want to.

The sad news has reminded me how precious life is. I sit in the back yard, letting the heaviness pin me to my camping chair. I think about all the little concerns I have that, if I knew I was about to die, those concerns would not even be the very last things I’d worry about. They’d be so far off the list. One of my dogs lays about 10 feet in front of me, next to her frisbee. My other dog’s inside, under the sheets napping. My family in Florida is probably at the soccer field, baseball field, or eating lunch, or a few of them jumping on the trampoline, or swimming in a pool. I blink my eyes as my mind goes deeper and deeper into thought about what really matters. My faith. My family. My friends. My neighbors.

Then more thoughts about what I’m doing that’s a waste of time. What I’m doing that I need to keep doing. What’s important? When it’s my time to go, what I’ll be most proud of. Least proud of. What I’ll regret. Will I have been a spark in the lives of those around me; my friends, my family, anyone I work with?

I’ve tried to express the current state of mind I’m in, but maybe this quote I’ve heard before is more appropriate, “When you don’t know what to say, sing.” This song by Greg Holden is what I’m singing along to…

A few days have passed since her death. Clicking over to her Facebook page I’m reading comments on her wall, all confirming the spark she was to so many people. Because of Shannan, I’m not taking today for granted. I’m soaking in the sun and sights of kayaking downtown Nashville, and thinking of Shannan.

Hope you’re still a bright shining spark in Heaven.

-BW

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2 thoughts on “When death knocks at a neighbor’s door

  1. Ben, I don’t know details of this specific circumstance but have found myself contemplating the same emotions in recent years. As both my younger and older friends pass. It just never feels like the timing is ever right. Thanks for this though… we should all remember to be ‘a spark’

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