Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Too Much Death

Brighton has written about two 12-year-old girls who were killed by an intoxicated driver who slammed into their stalled automobile. As I have followed the story, I felt the dreadfulness of the tragedy: to have one’s child killed in an automobile accident is catastrophic enough, but to have the loss of life result from someone drinking and driving after so many warnings against such behavior have been broadcast for so long must be overwhelming. I have kept the family in my prayers since first reading Brighton’s blog post.

Monday evening I stopped by the convenience store owned by my friends from India. (See my May 26th post: It’s going to be a Long Summer). The son, Jimmy, was working in the store and I suddenly realized that I had not seen him or his sister or their parents in the store since before Christmas. I had a sort of prescient feeling that something was wrong.

I asked Jimmy how he was doing and responded, “OK.” I continued and asked about his family and was staggered by Jimmy’s response: “Mom passed away last Monday.”

I expressed my genuine distress at her death. His mother was my friend. She, like me, had majored in history and we had had many conversations along that line during the years I had frequented their store. She always smiled when she saw me and often we laughed together. I knew she was about ten years younger than me, so her death like the death of my cousin last week was a jolting shock.

I was even more stunned when Jimmy told me that his mother had been killed in an automobile accident. Like the two 12-year-old girls about whom Brighton has written, she was sitting in the back seat of the family automobile when they were rear-ended by a drunk driver. Jimmy’s wife and infant son also shared that seat and were both injured. They are OK, thank God!

As I drove home in distress, I wondered why I had not heard about this tragedy sooner. I had been in the store several times since its occurrence—I had even noticed and commented to the clerk that none of the family was working there last week.

When I arrived home I searched the Internet achieves of the Louisville Courier-Journal until I located the story. As I read it, I was even more shocked and incensed. The family was stopped at a red-light not too far from their store when another car crashed into the rear of their car, killing Jimmy’s mother and injuring his wife and 18-month-old son.

Incredibility, the car that hit them drove away. Police followed “a trail of fluids” from the accident and located the second car a few blocks away. The also found the alleged driver, Nathan T. Lynch, 37, injured in the backyard of a nearby home. Lynch was hospitalized and, when discharged the next morning, he was arrested and charged with murder, assault, three counts of wanton endangerment, leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence of intoxicants and—incredibly—failure to provide proof of insurance.

As I read the story I suddenly realized that I had not known Jimmy’s mother’s name— Satnam Sandhu. I also began to be aware that there has been too much death and unnecessary violence—as if violence is ever really “necessary”—this year. I shall be glad when 2006 arrives.

In the mean time, I continue to keep the families of the two 12-year-old girls that Brighton has written of and my friend Satnam Sandhu and my own family since the death of my cousin, Larry, whose funeral I attended this afternoon, in my prayers.


  1. I agree: there is too much (unnecessary) death and all death touches me.

    "therefore send not to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."

  2. what a sad sad thing. It just makes a person's heart hurt and you feel almost paralyzed by the hopelessness it creates. So sad for all those families, and sad that tendrils of the tragedies have even touched you.

  3. Life seems to come at you in waves, little groups of related things all seem to crash in at once. Sometimes all you can do is hang on and wait it out.

    In a trivial little footnote, I am one course away from a history degree. I've been 3 credits short for many years.

  4. azsonofagun: Thanks for the John Donne quote. It’s one of my favorites:

    No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine own were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."
    —from "Meditation XVII" of Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions

    BTW, Hemingway’s book, “for Whom the Bells Tolls,” is also one of my favorites.

    jay are: Well said. Thank you for making the point. The sadness does reach out and touch us, doesn’t it?

    Thomas: Like waves, yes! I sometimes see things as coming in sets of three. That isn’t always the case, but has been many times.

    That you are one course away from a history degree doesn’t seem so trivial. It does indicate how and why you and I can connect as we do. It was that way with Satnam Sandhu.

    BTW, I have noted that my link to the Courier-Journal article doesn’t work. It seems my local newspaper makes one PAY to access any archived article more than 7 days old!

    Bucky: Thanks! I am ready for something new!

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