A Subdued Seventeenth

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ever since this blog became "live" over 6 years ago, even though my posts have been sporadic, I have typically been faithful with writing a birthday tribute to each of my boys.  Those are the posts I look forward to the most.  Since Quinn's special day falls within two weeks of Christmas, I try to start thinking about what I want to say and what photos I want to include before the new year begins. On Sunday afternoon, the day before his birthday,  I was about to sit down and start typing away when Quinn came looking for me.  With a panicked look on his face he asked, "Mom, did you hear anything about a crash on Barkley this morning?  Jess just texted me and said he heard it was fatal and that a Squalicum student was involved."  My heart sank and I had a sinking feeling he was right. I combed our local paper's website and Facebook looking for any information that might be out there but found nothing.    He went outside to take down the Christmas lights and an hour later came in and said, "it's true.  It was Hannah."

As we learned about the details, it became even more heartbreaking.  Hannah, a vivacious, very loved high school senior, was driving down the hill on her way to work, in her beloved 1970's VW bug when her car slid on the icy road, crossed the center line and collided with an oncoming truck.  Her vehicle then caught fire and the witnesses were not able to remove her before it was engulfed in flames.  The only saving grace was that the authorities confirmed she was unconscious and didn't suffer. The entire school community was devastated and social media was filled with grieving teenagers sharing their heartbreak and absolute adoration of this beautiful young lady. Although I'd never met her or her family, I had heard their names over the years and we had many mutual friends.  It was just unfathomable.

Because Trey was leaving early in the morning on Quinn's birthday, we talked about celebrating the night before.  After hearing this news, none of us were up for it. I told Trey, "it just doesn't seem fair that we get to plan our child's birthday while Hannah's family is planning a funeral."  Even thinking about going back to school the next day, after the two week break, was something no one was looking forward to in the least.

 Although I felt for Quinn that his birthday would be subdued by such tragedy, I loved how he was more concerned for his classmates than worried about being overlooked.  And I was so grateful to watch our amazing community come together and honor their friend.  We had takeout Chinese and a Dairy Queen ice cream cake with Quinn's friends then headed over to the high school for a cross town rival boys' basketball game.  Apparently word had spread over Facebook and Twitter that the student body was requesting for all fans to wear purple to the game as it had been Hannah's favorite color.  When we walked into the gym it was a packed house and an absolute sea of purple--every single fan from the other high school's student section had obeyed the request.  The players had purple bands on their jerseys and each of them wore purple socks. It was chilling.  At halftime, the ASB president made a short speech and directed the opponent's students to join ours for a picture.  It was amazing to watch these kids who, on any given day, will chant across the gym at each other with such intensity come together and lock arms in a display that announced, "Love wins!"

This may have not been how any of us planned to celebrate Quinn's birthday but in so many ways it was a better celebration because of the outcome.