The roller coaster ride of life

What a week. I didn’t know we had such a big roller-coaster ride located right here in McCulloch County. Having been on it all week, I am ready to get off, or at least make the climb up to a high point again. At this time just a short week ago, I was enjoying a little surprise anniversary getaway my wife planned for us to celebrate our 11th anniversary. Since then, I have been a passenger on the ride that has taken much of this town on an emotional journey that most would rather have opted for a long wait until that next train was scheduled to arrive. Holly and I got the news about the Springer’s accident late last Thursday. It literally took the wind out of our sails, but it did give us both a sense of reality and I, for one, realized how fragile life really can be. We are not extremely close “pal around” buddies with Brian and Melissa, but Holly had just visited with Melissa a week or two earlier at SEAL gymnastics. Anyone who knows the Springers knows how involved they have been in the gymnastics troupe over the past years. That was made obvious Wednesday at the funeral when a sizeable portion of the audience was there because of knowing the Springers through SEAL. Dealing with this type of tragedy is never easy. The visitation Tuesday evening personally brought everything to reality. I told people that attending funerals for those who have been on earth for longer periods of time seem to be much less difficult. Melissa was my age, even a few years younger. I had visited off and on with the Springers’ close friends, Corde and Leslie Morris, since just after getting the news. I spoke with Leslie as she was on her way to pick up one of the girls in Austin. I made the call hoping beyond hope that she would be able to tell me that the story I had heard was just a rumor gone awry, but no such luck. I was able to talk with Corde the next morning as he stood by Brian’s side at the hospital. I could tell that Melissa’s death was going to hit closer to home than ever for them. I felt Corde and Leslie’s pain because I know them a bit better and see them on a more regular basis. Besides their involvement in the Chamber and our chats about work-related issues, they live only a block over, and I pass by their home on a regular basis. In preparing the article about the accident for the paper, Leslie sent me the Springer family photo that was placed on the back page. My response when I got the photo was that it simply made my heart hurt. My daughter, Brynn, knew Melissa from school and wanted to attend the funeral along with Holly and me. It was good to have her there so she could understand what life and death is all about. She is not a stranger to it, but it is part of life that we, as parents, have to teach our children. She was one of many youngsters who attended. The funeral was good for me, except that I fought the urge to bawl uncontrollably for so long that I gave myself a massive headache. I shed tears, but not nearly enough to ease the pain. One thing Rev. Blake O’Dell said that really struck a chord with me was when he recalled a statement one of the Springer girls made shortly after the accident. He said that one of the girls told them “we lost our mommy” to which he replied “girls, you cannot lose something when you know exactly where it is.” As much as I know the Springers, I did know for a fact that they are Christians. It is for that reason that we, as fellow Christians, know where Melissa is’in Heaven. I had never heard it put that simply before, but brother Blake put it just the way it needed to be, plain and simple. My heart aches for Brian, Mikayla and Samantha and all of the family and close friends. I sat during the funeral and thought to myself, what if it was me there in the front pew with my sweet Brynn and Sam flanking my side’ I hope that day never comes. Life is a crazy thing that sometimes is beyond difficult and completely impossible to understand. One day, it will all make sense, but until that day comes, we have a duty to carry on the mission set before us here on earth.’JS

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