I hate this day - JJ Landis
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I hate this day

A best friend of a close friend’s daughter died suddenly yesterday in a ridiculous accident near our house that was not her fault. I haven’t stopped shaking since I heard the news and I didn’t even know the girl. My heart is broken for my young friend.

 

High school graduation was less than a month ago. Now a life of one of the hopeful graduates is gone. For no reason.

 

Trying to figure out what to do to help. Keep checking in with my friend to see what I can do to help her or her daughter. Of course – there is nothing I can do to make anything better.

 

I perused flowers.com in search of a gift. Somehow sending sympathy flowers to an 18-year-old seems wrong. And besides flowers, what do you do when someone dies? There are also sympathy gift baskets full of food. Ugh.

 

Last night while my family was at Bible school, about six hours after the midday accident, a quick storm blew through which produced the most magnificent double rainbow I’ve ever seen. As happens with rainbows, Instagram and Facebook exploded with pictures of the sky. While it was fabulous and breathtaking to see in person and then again online, I am not ready to stomach comments about God’s promise. About God being in control.

 

I know in my head what I believe about how the world works. I know we’re fallen and sin screws us up. I know people die, but seriously, it really sucks.

 

A drunk person at 2 in the afternoon smashed headfirst into this young girl’s car. Are you kidding me??? On a road I was on at the exact time, just a mile or two in front of her, innocently going about my life picking up my daughter’s 8-yr-old friend for a playdate.

 

Life is so unfair and uncertain. Most things happen with no explanation or justification. I am repeatedly disgusted and irritated when people say “all things happen for a reason.” The only reason this happened was because someone made horrific choices, and many lives were obliterated in the process.

 

Why do some people escape from their mistakes without deadly repercussions and others don’t? I have no clue. I am no better than the drunk driver, for sure. (I drove drunk many times.)

 

Not sure what I will end up “doing” for my sweet neighbors who have lost a best friend. Flowers, gift baskets. Prayers. Conversations. Hugs. All of it sounds kind of futile at this point.

 

What about the many teenage friends of this girl? What is going to happen to their lives? Will they develop faith in God? Will they turn their back on a God who would allow this? Life isn’t fair – blah blah blah – they all know that. But what will they do with this? Will they rush toward God? Will they run the other way? Will they take a path of destruction? Will they take the path of righteousness? Will they hate? Will they forgive?

 

All I know to do in this moment is to pray. But I don’t know what to say or ask. So I am putting my earbuds in and going for a run. I will let the familiar lyrics of my favorite Skillet, Casting Crowns, etc. songs blast my brain. I will ask God to heal the brokenhearted. To bring comfort. We all live one day at a time. What I will pray for my sweet 18-year-old friend is for peace. For today. And then for tomorrow.

19 Comments
  • 5 on Friday: Good stuff from bloggers you need to be reading | Living Echoes
    Posted at 07:06h, 18 July Reply

    […] I hate this day by J.J. Landis. Written in the wake of a local tragedy, J.J. is frank about how our efforts to […]

  • Beth
    Posted at 19:46h, 10 July Reply

    I lost a very good friend in high school. She was an innocent passenger in a car with a driver that was under the influence of drugs. She was completely unaware of this. She has been gone now for almost 17 years. She has been gone longer than she was alive. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. I had a memorial tattoo done for her the day I turned 18. It is my way of keeping her with me every day. I visit her gravesite often. Every year always on her birthday, and many other times as well. I can’t say there was one thing that somebody did for me that really stuck out as helpful. Just having people present was very comforting. Having people there to listen to stories about her, they didn’t say much but were great ears. It was nice to have people simply smile at me, and not look at me with eyes of sadness and faces of fear. It is hard to lose someone you love. It is especially hard to lose someone you love at such a young age, during the vulnerable teen years when you are trying to find your way through this thing called life. It truly did make me question a lot about life.

  • Debra Dombrowski
    Posted at 12:15h, 10 July Reply

    also- at the cemetary, we had Blue Spruce saplings for the people to take home. It came with planting instruction, a pretty bow and a bible verse that we chose. Tastefully done. We ordered 150 but should have ordered more. The funeral director helped and they had it in 24 hours. People are now posting photos of there planted saplings for Daniel. It’s comforting. I am so so glad we did that! The address is http://www.greenworldproject.net.

  • Maria
    Posted at 21:15h, 09 July Reply

    You are right — life is very hard sometimes. But all I can say is this accident would not have happened if someone hadn’t intentionally decided to drink and drive….this is more than a mistake — this is an intentional sin. The romance so many people seem to have with alcohol amazes me…..people know they lose their inhibitions and might cause pain — or death — to someone, but they still keep drinking and driving! I guess I am out of touch, but I don’t understand the fascination with alcohol. I am so sad for the family of this wonderful young girl! I am a grandmother and can hardly imagine this happening to one of my grandchildren — but I fear people on the road who choose to drive drunk.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 21:41h, 09 July Reply

      I agree. Alcohol causes so many problems. It destroyed lives in my family.

  • Denise
    Posted at 20:58h, 09 July Reply

    JJ
    I know the hurt the parents are feeling, my beautiful daughter a single mom of a 5 year old gone in a second from us. She was riding on a motorcycle with her friend, in total 8 people who love to go out for a nice ride. It was October 19, 2013 they all are from Lancaster going to see the “The Rock” overlooking God’s beautiful scenery, in Franklin County at 1:45 pm they just left McDonald’s I was told Colleen was laughing and had that big beautiful smile. No worries of her busy life as an office administration job, no coaching MT Field hockey girls, and not worring about Cole because he was being babysat by his Paw-Paw. She was enjoying her day! I raised Colleen to love God, she went to summer camp and worked at Black Rock Retreat when she was a teenager. We go to church Cole goes to Sunday school. I raised my children to love God’s ways know he is in control. And now raising Cole, just like I did his mom maybe with even with more patiences. When Colleen passed I was in Floridia getting ready to head home when I got the call. She was killed at 2pm and so was 3 other friends! They never got to the Rock, but she is with her Rock Jesus! A man for some no reason crossed the center lane and killed 4 fun caring parents of children and also killing his wife who was a passenger with him. When I was told, I was shock, in pain, anger, numb, lost, disbelief, not sure where my life was going. Colleen was 27 years old, lived with me. She was not just my daughter but my BEST FREIND, I know the parents of the young girl are thinking she will be walking through the door, or they will get a text, or phone call or a message on FB. Or they want to do the same.
    I still think I’m going to hear Colleen walking down the front porch with those high heels she loved to wear, or seeing her ear to her cell phone talking to a friend or talking with Cole coming in the door. Asking me what’s for dinner. We talked at least 10 times or more a day. I miss that.
    I have my faith, I was raised to understand we are BLESSED to be given God’s child to us. As parents this is a true blessing, to honor God for our own special gift his gave us our children. He knows before we do the day we are born and how many hair we have on our head even the color hair. Colleen’s was strawberry blond. He also knows when his needs his child back home with him. I think we all feel we are in control of our lives and our child’s life we are somewhat but there is only one person and that is God! Remember he gave his son to us so we can ask to be forgiven. In time I have asked to be forgiven for my anger and frusation towards this man who cross the center lane and took my Colleen home to be our angel. God forgives us so I pray not now but in time on their time the parents of Miss Dembo will understand she is with her first father God and his son Jesus.
    I pray that they have the support of church family, their family, and friends and the friends of Meredith. I know this is how I got through and still going through is with praying to my Lord, my church family, family and friends.
    I know it’s not all sinking in yet, I still cry everyday and talk to Colleen making sure she is okay with the way I’m raising Cole. I prayed yesterday morning for a sign she was with my dad her Pop-Pop who passed 10 months before Colleen did that they were together and ok, guess what Cole and I got our pray answer in the evening sky was a double rainbow.
    You were wondering what to do for the family, prayer, hugs, get there mail, mow their grass, and just let them know you are there for them and there family, a card, a little note. If their daughter had any special clubs or sports try to start a scholarship in her memory, plant a favorite flower she loved in her memory.
    But most of all don’t forget them in 9 months. I still cry everyday and enjoy a phone call or a card or even a hug. If they have other children don’t forget them either. And remember your family is seeing what it means to help others in a time of grieving. You are teaching them too what God would do in helping healing hearts.
    JJ, I don’t know you or Meredith family but I’m thinking and hurting, grieving for them and their family. Please let them know if they need me to just sit and cry or just want to talk I’m here. I love you for sharing and showing you have a loving Christian heart. (((((((HUGS))))))) to all involved. Remember the young man’s life is over too! This will be something he will live forever and ever. And he has parents and who knows maybe children who are hurting for a BIG MISTAKE HE DID THAT DAY! God knew what was going to happen before we did.
    I hope I don’t sound preachy I just know how felt the day, weeks and months from losing my daughter from a horrible accident. I just would love to (((((hug)))) The Demko family!
    Love from a Greiving Parent,
    Denise Miller

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 21:39h, 09 July Reply

      Oh, I remember the motorcycle accident. I am so sorry for your loss. Bless you!

  • Sherry Herr
    Posted at 20:43h, 09 July Reply

    Beautiful touching post. I can not imagine nor do I want to think of how her family and friends are feeling at this moment. I lost my parents tragically and I can tell you that I put all my faith in God and know that he has a plan. Although it may not seem fair or right he has a plan. I pray for this family. The rainbow was beautiful as was this young lady who I saw the picture online. God Bless her and all the lives she has touched.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 21:38h, 09 July Reply

      I am so sorry you lost your parents. Thank you for your comments.

  • Shanon Solava-Reid
    Posted at 19:32h, 09 July Reply

    I’m so sorry to hear this news. When I was 17, my 16 year old friend was killed in a car accident in the middle of the day by a drunk driver. My family gave me space. I welcomed it. A few hours after I heard the news, I pulled myself together and went over to “her” house. The entire family was there and I was family. One by one, people dropped off food. They would walk in, hug her mom, me if I knew them, and place the dish on the table and leave. One by one…very little words, just actions of love. At one point, my teenage friends and I left and when to the parking lot of the school, we told stories and processed our emotions. People we knew drove by us without notice. Later we learned an entire group of adults were keeping a gentle eye on us as we sat there that night. Again, giving space. When it came time for the service my teachers and neighbors came to see me. Me! They didn’t even know my friend. I share this story in hopes that it is helpful to you and inspires just the right idea for you to become a positive memory for these youth…one day.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 21:37h, 09 July Reply

      This is so helpful. Bless you.

  • Kelly Lancaster
    Posted at 18:51h, 09 July Reply

    When I am hurting so bad and don’t know where to start when I know a prayer is needed, I always remember that God knows the desires of our heart. I just close my eyes & focus on God & what is causing my heart to ache. He takes care of the rest.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 21:36h, 09 July Reply

      Thank you!

  • Debra Dombrowski
    Posted at 17:11h, 09 July Reply

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My son Daniel passed away 3 weeks ago from injures sustained from a motorcycle accident that wAsnt his fault. He was 21. I am crushed. Still in a fog. My cousins wife and a dear friend went to “mealtrain.com” and sent out Facebook posts for friends to make dinners. People can schedule on their own without a third party. It’s been a Godsend. That, and prayers. Maybe your daughter and you could set that up. Hope it helps a little. My daughter (18 and a new graduate) also set up a FB page “Pray for Daniel Dombrowski” (because he was on life support for a week before he died.) there are already 1000 participants. What’s really nice is when I read a story about Dan from family or friends or people that knew Dan that we never knew. College friends etc. Maybe you can do that- because her family will need much prayers and support ongoing. <3 So.very.painful. I'm so sorry!

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 21:36h, 09 July Reply

      I am so sorry for your loss. Heartbreaking. Thank you for your comments.

  • Lisa Bartelt
    Posted at 11:49h, 09 July Reply

    Oh, J.J. it breaks my heart, too. I thought of you and others I know who live near there or go to school there. It absolutely sucks! And I think that’s one of the best things you can do for your friends is acknowledge the pain and give them permission to feel all the feelings. We so easily rush through grief and sometimes we want to rush others through it. Be present. Cry with them. Don’t say anything if you don’t know what to say.

    Jason Gray has a great song about this kind of thing called “Not Right Now.” Not sure you Google it if you can find it but it talks about sitting with people in the ashes of disaster andppraying for peace rather than telling them this happened for a reason.
    Praying for you all.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 21:35h, 09 July Reply

      Thanks Lisa. I will look up that song.

  • Stacey
    Posted at 11:25h, 09 July Reply

    The pictures on-line, the shock of it being on Lampeter Rd., the search on FB of who the victim was. So heart wrenching. It’s all too much. Thank you for this post J. J. I didn’t know the young victim or others who were involved in the crash, but they are us, we are them, we are a community of people sending love, grace, and healing to make this better. I related to this post. Thanks for sharing.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 21:35h, 09 July Reply

      Community is so important. Thanks!

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