This is the story of a real 15 year-old girl, who lives in East Cobb. Let’s call her Katy. Has a mom, dad, maybe a brother and/or sister. Lots of friends, classmates, extended relatives. Grandparents. She’s got a life, and it’s awesome. Cell phone. Facebook. Her music. Walton High. Maybe a church youth group. Sure, there are highs and lows. Sometimes her parents get on her case. But when she gets to hang with friends, she can be herself.
Like last Friday night. After a long week at school, she meets up with friends at The Picture Show, the popular East Cobb dollar theater. Many of us have been there ourselves. Catch a movie, or stand around outside. Across the street there’s the new Arbys, a Chinese place, the cool pizza joint.
“Come on, let’s go!” her friends say. Seems like a good idea. It’s a really fun night. Katy doesn’t want to be left out. But the path straight to the pizza joint takes the gang not to an intersection crosswalk, but just a stretch of busy Upper Roswell Road. No matter. Everyone starts to cross. The cars will stop. The friends are having a great time, chatting, strutting. Some of the boys play the fool, shaking their rear at passing cars. Katy follows, talking.
But she doesn’t look. A car in the middle lane, whose view was blocked by Ceil’s minivan in the adjoining lane, couldn’t possibly see Katy. The driver, “Jim”, is a dad with a wife and two young girls. He brakes, but it’s too late. His car hits Katy. She’s thrown, and after landing, doesn’t move.
Suddenly, everything stops. Everything is quiet. The friends gather around Katy, but don’t know what to do. Ceil and Jim pull over. It doesn’t take long for the ambulance to arrive, lights flashing, siren whaling. The medics quickly get to work.
For many, life will never be the same. Friends will remember the harrowing experience much longer than Katy. Though not his fault, Jim will go through life knowing he was behind the wheel of the car that hit her. Even as he watches his young daughters grow into beautiful teens themselves, much like Katy.
Having seen the whole thing, Ceil takes it quite hard. She knows it didn’t have to happen. Teens not thinking, making poor decisions. Most times we are lucky. We make a poor decision, but a majority of the time it’s not like anyone dies. Sometimes we may come close. We think about it for a nano, then move on. Life goes on. For some of us.
Ceil goes home and calls good friends to lean on. The big Flight/Crown games are a nice distraction, but there are reminders. One of Ceil, Becky, and Cathy’s best friends died tragically a few years ago, but at least she was unafraid. Just the Friday before 16 year old Garrett died in an alcohol-related accident after midnight. He was the son of our friends Neil and Sarah, who used to spend weekends in the North Carolina mountains with us, the Normans, and David Hurt.
Even with God’s help, it’s hard to put such thoughts behind us. It’s been a tough week. We just found out on Thursday Katy is OK.
I’m so glad my Will, Anna, and Matthew have such great friends to spend time with. There’s nothing like high school. Memories are created that will last a lifetime. Be sure to make it a LONG lifetime. Garrett sounded a lot like Will, living life to the fullest. Will’s not like me, but that’s a good thing. I’m cautious…he’s all out.
I pray you guys and girls have lots of good, safe fun. God, please protect them. Help them to make wise decisions. Even if it’s hard. Even when they’re tired. Even when it’s not the cool, fun thing. Like Katy has discovered, ALL decisions can be life-altering. Be careful who you follow - in life, and crossing the street. That's why it's so important to have Jesus as your Saviour. Have a fulfilling life. A LONG, fulfilling life. Do it for you.
People love you. Do it for them.