A few weeks ago, a 62 year old woman went for a trail ride with her family from our barn. The barn does trail rides all the time. Usually one of the teen girls lead the ride with Matt or V, the barn boss, picking up the rear. They walk through a lot of protected land between 2 towns. People love them!
Unfortunately, tragedy struck this one day when the horse behind the woman's horse stepped on it's hoof, or nipped at it or something. Whatever happened, the horse bolted with the woman and the woman clipped a tree and died. Pure accident. Pure nightmare for all who witnessed it. Pure sadness all around.
When I was in grad school, I lived at home during the week and at the Cape on weekends. I came home from class one night to find a note on the counter from my dad that said something to the effect of "MJ is dead. At the L's house. Come over." How I got into my car and drove the 1/2 mile to their house, I don't know. All I remember is walking into the house, seeing the siblings and cousins sitting in one room, the dad in the hallway, the mom sitting at the kitchen table with friends and my parents. It was surreal and I was crying asking them if it was really true and pretty much being hysterical. My parents brought me into the living room, sat me down and gave me something very strong.
Evidently, MJ (16) had been skiing that afternoon with his school team at Waterville Valley, NH. All of us grew up racing for Waterville and skiing all the time. He had his helmet on, he was an expert skier and he just happened to catch an edge and fly backwards into the woods where he hit the back of his neck on a tree. He died instantly. It sucked. I was 7 years older than MJ, but I would always tease him that I was going to marry him when he got older. He was a great kid, with a beautiful smile and the nicest blue eyes.
So, of course, anytime someone dies from an accident, it always brings me back to the night of MJ. What this all has taught me is that life is short. You get one chance at life and you better do the things that you love and appreciate them. When it is your time, it's your time. I tried to explain this to the girls after the barn accident. Basically I told them that it was important to see the glass as half full and live and appreciate life and try to learn lessons from life's tragedies even though the lessons aren't often obvious.
Maybe tragedies are just a reminder that life is precious.