I come from a small town...a really small town. Oakman might have a population of maybe 1000 people, so everybody knows everybody. Growing up, I hated living in a place where everyone knew everything, but as an adult, I have learned to appreciate the closeness and community that you just don't get in larger cities.
When I was about 12, we moved into our new house on Mockingbird Hill Road. Actually, the road wasn't officially named Mockingbird Hill at the time, but that's what everyone called it. My great-grandfather had always called it that, and I guess it just caught on with the other residents on "the hill" as we often call it. The community itself is typically called New Hope, but for those of us who live or lived on that one-mile old country road, it is and always will be "the hill." Sometime after I grew up and moved away, they county commission officially named the road Mockingbird Hill Road.
Mockingbird Hill is home to about 17 families, many of whom are related by blood or by marriage. And if they aren't kin, well, then, they claim kin. In the last two weeks, everyone of those 17 families has been affected by loss, either because a family member passed away or just because they are a "family" who shares nothing more than the same community.
The first loss was felt by Mrs. Stover, her daughter Virginia, and her son Ed, all of whom live on the hill. Mrs. Stover's son, Blue, and his wife, Nancy, died within about 24 hours of each other. On Thursday, another tragedy struck. Walt, who is distantly related to us and has lived on the hill his entire life, was killed in a motorcycle wreck. He was 49. He leaves behind his wife Rhonda, two sons Haley and Reilly, his parents Harold and Wanda, a sister Kathleen, a niece Madeleine, and a grandmother Dana. With the exception of Wanda and Rhonda, everyone else grew up on Mockingbird Hill. Yesterday, Shirley's father passed away. Mr. Underwood had been sick for some time, but that still never makes it any easier.
All of the deaths sadden me, but Walt's death has been the one that has stayed on my mind the most. Maybe it's because he is so close in age to me; maybe it's because I just simply cannot imagine the emptiness that Rhonda must feel; maybe it's because his death was so unexpected and sudden. In the blink of an eye, his life was taken. His wife, his sons, his parents, his sister, his friends had a huge hole ripped in their hearts.
I know that we aren't supposed to ask why, but sometimes you just can't help it. Why has one small community been hit so hard? Why have so many families been affected in such a short time? (If Pat Robertson were to respond, he'd say it's because the community is being punished by God for their corrupt behavior. I can assure you that is not the case!)
We are never promised tomorrow. We aren't even promised the next five minutes. We can only try to live our lives in a way so that we don't have to worry about what happens after.
Sorry for a depressing post, but I just had to put my thoughts down. Writing them down is a catharsis.
I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.
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