Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Grief has hit our community once again. In the last 20 months, we've lost a beloved police officer in a motorcycle accident, a 6-year-old boy to a heart attack, a 19-year-old boy to a "legal" drug, the fathers of 2 third-graders, and just recently a 9-year-old boy in a farming accident. 5 of the 6 have been minors or parents of young children. 3 of those have happened in the last 2 months and directly affected the third graders.

We're a small town. It seems we no sooner process one tragedy when another one hits.

Grant was Dayna's first friend in Ashland. When they were about 3 years old, his parents bought the house next door to us. They spent months renovating and flipping the house. While there, the two kids would often play on their tricycles, or Grant's Big Wheel, or they'd kick a ball around the front yard. They shared the same Kindergarten class, and in this small town, their paths have crossed frequently. One of my favorite memories is of Grant riding his bike home from school with rubber boots that looked like ducks, shorts, and a batman cape. The kid was full of life and spunk, and you couldn't help but smile when you saw him around.

The afternoon before Easter, he was tragically killed on property his family owns. The driver of the bobcat was their tenant, and I presume a friend of the family. His mother was there and tried to administer CPR. Rescue squads from at least half a dozen communities (including a rescue helicopter) were all on the scene, but none were able to save him.

I got the news late that night. We waited to tell Dayna so she could enjoy Easter services at church. But it nearly broke my heart to tell her her friend was gone.

The rest of that week was so incredibly hard. Dayna has not attended any funerals since she was quite small. With much prayer and discernment, we felt it was not only necessary for her to attend his funeral, but she needed to go to the visitation to tell Grant goodbye. What a difficult night. We're trying to help Dayna replace the sad images with happy memories of Grant. (We hear an awful lot of stories about lunchroom antics at school!) And she really is doing okay - despite a deep-seated sadness.

The joy of a small town is that Grant's family is not grieving alone. His favorite colors were hot pink and safety orange. Many school children came to his funeral bedecked in those bright colors. Around town, people have tied pink and orange ribbons around their trees, mailboxes, lampposts, etc. Dayna even went around our neighborhood and tied ribbon to the neighbor's trees! There was a candlelight vigil the night before the funeral on the block in front of Grant's house. Hundreds of people came. It was windy and rainy - the candles wouldn't stay lit...and then someone started singing "Amazing Grace." For 4 verses, the candles held their flame and burned bravely and brightly. And when the song ended, the candles started to go out again.

We really don't know what is in store next for this community. 2 days after Grant's funeral was a benefit for one of the men who died in February. Many people were wearing orange and pink. This community lives together, loves together, celebrates together, and grieves together. I just hope we can have a break from the grief for awhile. Our hearts can't take much more.

We miss you, Grant!

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