The thing about tragedy Is that it hits you once Then lurks in a dark corner for a while Trying to be forgotten And just when it's almost succeeded It comes out again. It hits you even harder this time Then again And again Until you're almost numb to the pain Or you think you are Until it hurts all over again.
Real tragedy Is the hardest to be sad about Because you don't even know Where to begin Because you don't understand You can't even imagine. And the longer time goes on The less real it becomes The more you question The fewer answers you get. Your tears won't come out Because they don't believe it's true.
I still can't imagine.
Five lives, over. Five friends, gone. Five classmates, with no tomorrow. Five kids my grade, five kids my own age. And it doesn't matter that I didn't know them,
I guess I'm more than a day late and a dollar short. I've been putting this off, frowning and vomiting the words "that's terrible" and "I feel so bad" whenever someone brings them up. While a flood of emotion and support has washed over Harwood, the most I did was sign a banner my school had in the cafeteria today. I put a heart next to my signature, my first and last name, as if somehow that made my contribution more important. What did I even mean by adding that heart? Was I signing a greeting card, "with love"? Saying, "my heart goes out to you"? I colored it in with the same marker I signed with. Black. Why? Because it was a little lopsided, and I wanted to make it even.
I'm so tired, Of hearing these kind of things. Accidents. Tragedy. Everything.
“5 teens, killed in a car crash.” “Killed on 1-89.” They were juniors, I heard. Older than me, but still young. 16, 17 years old? Who knows?
I suppose it’s no one’s fault. It’s been all over the local news. In the newspapers. On the screen. In our hearts. In our minds. We send our prayers, our thoughts, our wishes, For their eternal well-being. And for their families and friends.
But I’m so tired, So tired of hearing this stuff. And it’s not just here; It’s everywhere. The world is a dark place. Sickness, pain, and death. We don’t even hear the half of it. Everyday, people are suffering. They’re dying. And nobody knows about it.
I’m so tired, Of hearing of this stuff. But just because I’m tired,
I remember the morning when our school's principal before block two had announced over the intercom that five Vermont teenagers had been killed in a car crash. At first, I was a bit surprised they had announced it. Were these students from our school? What happened? And mostly, I was fairly confused. After all, weren't there several things that happen like this all the time? It's all over the news, something like: "Dad killed daughter to get back at her mom","A Mom Says She Asked Her Kids If They Wanted To 'Go To Heaven' Before Killing Them", or"Two teens dead in Riverdale double shooting". Those are just a couple quick headlines I found on a Google search just now. So many senseless deaths in the U.S. happen all the time, everyday, hundreds upon hundreds of deaths. What had these teens done that set them aside from all those other innocent peoples' lives? Why was their death so important?
I can’t help but think that I will see you tomorrow, but I know we aren’t promised that day. You are long gone and so far away. I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that this is true, and the sky I look at will never again be blue... On the side of Mt. Mansfield where your ashes now sit, I feel like my heart can’t take another emotional hit. I want you to know I miss you more than ever as I sit here on my bedroom floor, and think to myself, “Nothing will change the memories we had just days and hours before.” If there was one thing I could do, it would be to give up everything just so I could see you. You may be gone for now from me in person, but your memory lives on, and you will never be forgotten.
I woke up and scrolled through my facebook notifications, and I saw the headline. "Five Dead In Horrific Wrong-Way Crash" or something like that. I read it of course, because I read about most of the accidents I hear about, out of curiosity. They hadn't released names or age yet, and I felt sorrow for whoever had lost these friends and family members. I got to church later that morning and people were asking me how I was holding up. I was confused, unsure why they were asking me that. Someone walked past me in tears, and I finally put two and two together. I asked if their was an update on the accident, and that's when I found out two of the names had been discovered. That's when I found out about Janie and Mary. My heart broke, and my worst fears were confirmed. I spent the next hour waiting for more news, and I finally got it. The other three names. Eli, Liam, and Cyrus. And I just felt this weight fall on me.
”Is everything okay? Why are you mad?” He asks. ”I’m not mad babe” I reply. He doesn't believe me it's kind of refreshing how well he knows me. The truth is I’m anything but okay. As cliche as that sounds.
For the past two days, I’ve been haunted by the fact that a girl from my school had to lose her life. I saw her a few days ago before she left. I gave her a hug and told her, ”Take care of yourself.” She smiled without her teeth looked over her shoulder at me and I never saw her or that smile again.
Editor's Note: Late at night on Oct. 8, 2016, five teenagers, returning from watching a concert in Burlington, were killed in a crash on I-89 in Williston, VT, the result of a wrong-way driver who later injured four others. Their names: Eli Brookens, 16, of Waterbury; Janie Cozzi, 15, of Fayston; Liam Hale, 16, of Fayston; Mary Harris, 16, of Moretown and Cyrus Zschau, 16, of Moretown.
This tragedy has shattered hundreds of lives, including their many classmates at Harwood Union High School and Kimball Union Academy. YWP welcomes youths who knew them -- and those who didn't -- to share their thoughts in this community. If you would, use the hashtag: #FiveLivesas a way to connect all that is written.
Our hearts go out to all of you -- family, friends, educators, community members. As one youth who knew them told us, "the whole Valley area is going to be a mess for a while." Indeed.
I went to your vigil tonight. It's weird to say that: I went to your vigil. We released lanterns and held candles and stood together. I didn't cry. Almost, but not quite. They had food there. Almost no one ate it. I didn't feel right, enjoying a cookie when you couldn't. My mouth was too dry anyway. Apparently you're famous now; national news and everything. You've become one of those stories people gasp at and say how horrible it is, and then go look at videos of kittens to cheer themselves up. After all, it couldn't happen to anyone they knew. You were people that I knew. It almost doesn't feel as though it happened. I can't comprehend the fact that you were here four days ago and now you just... aren't.
October 8th, 2016, five lives were lost this day, In such a tragic and horrible way. Eli Brookens, you were the one I knew best, And it saddens me that in such a short time you and your friends all went to rest.
I wish there was some way I could turn back time, Instead of taking this wretched emotional climb. I miss you already, and I want you to come back, But I know that is not happening, and my heart is being attacked.
You filled our lives with your laughter and joy, And you were not just like every other boy. You were different I would say, I wish, I wish, that you did not have to go away.
When I met you two summers ago, I never thought that our silly baseball friendship would grow. Every time I saw you, You would always say hi, and ask how baseball was too.
You asked me to go to your soccer game one day, But you somehow forgot to mention I had to pay.
"I'm not sure if you heard, but there was a tragic accident last night..." "A car crash..." "Five high school juniors died..." My heart raced. What happened? Who was it? From BFA? Were they my friends? Are Kayla, Rosie, Steph, Abby, Lonna, Sara, Sam, Gen, and all the others okay? Please let them be okay. Please don't let them be from BFA. Please don't let them be someone I knew. "They were from Harwood." I breathed a sigh of relief. No one I know. And then another mental crash, because someone knows them. They were someone's friends, somebody's family. And now I wonder if I somehow did know them. If they ran cross-country or track, if they skied, if they wrote, because we are all connected somehow. And I hope none of my friends knew them, because I don't want them to go though that pain, even though I know someone is. I hope they find peace someday.