My Personal Cantor

A Tragic, Unexplainable Loss …

Last night, Lauren, my daughter called me crying.  She had just found out that an old friend from High School’s little brother had been killed in an accident, the night before.  He was 16.

When Lauren was friends with Jen, in 9th and 10th grade, they were inseperable, and, as parents do, her mom and I became friendly too.  Jen and her sister, Danielle, were always such good girls.  Ritchie, their little brother, was a bit outside the box.  At 10, he was wearing a Mohawk.  He marched to the beat of his own drummer.  And his mom would just laugh, and say…”That’s Ritchie”….

As sad and tragic as it was, however, I cannot say I was shocked at the news Lauren was telling me on the phone.  Ritchie died instantly.  He was on a bike, and the driver of a Jeep Cherokee had killed him.  It was 5:00 in the morning.

We cannot figure out what Ritchie was doing at 5am on Griffin Road, but while our first instinct is that Ritchie was once again bucking the system, perhaps he was delivering newspapers, or trying to get to school early for extra credit.  The fact is, we don’t know, and might never know.  Honestly, Ritchie was one of the sweetest kids you ever wanted to know..

Either way, Ritchie is gone.  In an instant, a precious child’s life is gone, and a Mother and Father, and 2 sisters are left to wonder why.  It seems so unfair.  There are no answers.  Except one.  And it’s a story we hear all the time, but I wonder, how many of us live this lesson?

Live each day as if there were no tomorrow.  Do any of us know if we will really make it to work or home?  Are there any guarantees?  Children die at any age, and so do grownups.  We have no crystal balls, and no way of knowing.  So, why do we live lives of unhappiness, malcontent, and general blahness?  Why do we not smell every rose, wish on every star, kiss everyone we love, twice just in case, appreciate what we have, go for what we want, change careers as many times as necessary to find happiness, and reach back in our past to find people we once loved but lost our way from?

Why do we take our children, our parents, our siblings for granted?  How would we act if we knew today was our last day on earth with that person?  Why don’t we act that way every day?

I am reminded, and I hope you are, too.  I hope my children remember this, my ex husband, my parents, and my sisters remember, too.  I hope every friend on my Facebook accounts remembers, and I hope everyone goes home, and kisses someone they love very much.  I hope we appreciate everything and everyone we have, and that we consciously thank God for giving those people and things to us.

I am thanking God right now.  And praying that Ritchie’s memory be for a blessing to all of us.

May he rest in peace..

signature Cantor, Rabbi and Wedding Officiant Debbi Ballard

5 thoughts on “A Tragic, Unexplainable Loss …”

  1. Linda,
    Thank you so much for expressing gratitude for my posting. The experience has certainly made its mark on my life, and most definitely Lauren’s. She is at an age where she is realizing the value of life, and this was incredibly difficult for her to grasp.

    Seeing my friend, her husband, and two daughters, along with a community full of love and support really made me realize even more profoundly what is important in life. If I can change one person’s view of life, then Richie’s memory will certainly be for a blessing.

    B’Shalom…And keep kissing those you love.

  2. What a beautiful post. Straight to the heart. I so appreciate your candidness regarding this powerful story of life transition. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to lose a child.

    I hope your daughter finds peace with her friend’s loss. Your post has inspired me to go out and hug everyone I know and be grateful for each moment. Thank you!

  3. I came to your blog by chance (via facebook), and was touched by this post. I am 31yrs old but was 16 when I lost my best friend (also 16), she died suddenly in the night of an asthma attack. I know what it is too lose a friend when you are a teenager. I did not cope with it well, and there was a real lack of understanding from those around me. You are right that we need to live appreciating what we have, especially the people in our lives. I used to think I best keep myself away from getting close to people, so i would not get hurt, so I would not have to go thru the pain I went through at the lose of a friend. Now, nothing has given me more joy and comfort than the family and friends God has blessed me with. My faith in God, has also been the source of encouragement and hope that goes beyond the current situation. Shalom. Sonya

  4. Dear Debbi:

    I am sorry for your friend’s (and your daughter’s friend’s) loss.

    It never gets any easier. It used to be… when we were young you only heard of older people dying. Now there is no age limit! 🙁

    Earlier this evening I was complaining about all the sadness in the world. Mostly it was the economy, job losses, loss of homes, etc.. All the sadness I was complaining about pales with the loss of a child!

    I will say an extra prayer tonight for all those who grieve for this young man and Thank G-d for all those blessings he has bestowed upon me!

    Shalom & Gut Shabbos to you & yours!

    Roz Fruchtman

  5. Dear Sonelta – thanks for coming by, and sharing your most personal thoughts. Your reaction to certain feelings, and need for isolation are so common – but it is so important to remember that the gift of life certainly includes loss, so we must embrace it all. Without loss, there would not be gratitude….It almost sounds unfair, but it is so true…

    Roz – thanks to you, too, for sharing your thoughts. This blog post certainly hit home for many, and I’m thankful that Richie’s memory can invoke gratitude that might have otherwise been hidden by those nasty things like the economy, job losses, closing businesses, etc.

    Shabbat Shalom to all, may your pre-Thanksgiving Shabbat be one of reflection, gratitude, and numerous counted blessings.


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