Hannah called me at school yesterday to let me know she'd gotten home safely, which she does everyday. I expect it and often forget she's going to do it, but if the clock creeps too close to 3:00 p.m., I start getting antsy. But she's good about calling, and I know I breathe easier when she does.
However, when she called yesterday, it was her statement "Mom, did you hear about Mrs. Guss?" that just left me breathless. Joy Guss is one of her guidance counselors and a friend of ours from church, so of course I was curious and told her no. It was the next sentence that made me gasp involuntarily: "Her son was killed in a car accident last night." They had announced it at school that day, and just like that, we were all sucker punched.
Josh was only 15, a freshman at a local high school. He was a nice looking kid, and his mom was proud of him. He came to church with her some. We had had dinner with the Gusses not too long ago and had shared stories of the joys of raising teenagers. Joy had told us that when Josh complained, she reminded him that he was hers and she loved him. And now he's gone, one day after buying a book he'll never read, just minutes after completing baseball practice. Just like that.
As the parent of a teenager, I worry constantly about a lot of things, but car wrecks probably rank up there as one of the highest. Of course anything can happen at any time, but to know a life that one minute before had so much time before it is suddenly over literally makes me feel sick to my stomach. The fact that there is nothing that could have been done to prevent the accident almost makes it worse, because you can replay it and replay it and the outcome is still the same. I cannot imagine how Joy feels, though I'm sure at this point she's just numb. It will be the days, weeks, months, and years ahead that will bring the pain to the surface over and over again. I can be there for her as a friend, but I'm not her child and even her other child will never begin to replace the hole in her heart. There's one in my heart for her as well.