Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Last week, as I was sending off pages of the Tri-County News to press, I received two urgent phone calls. It was after 5 Tuesday evening, and both callers were metro
TV stations looking for photos of the terrible bus accident in Cottonwood. There's a Tri-County News in Cottonwood, and these two stations called us instead of them. The accident had happened less than two hours before. Even now, a week later, all the details are not yet known - except that it didn't have to happen, and that four children died needlessly.
I really appreciated Don Shelby's editorial that night (on WCCO). He said that, immediately after such an accident, people often call for seatbelts on busses, and more training for drivers. He said others would insist on driving their children to school themselves. But seatbelts are expensive for Minnesota schools that are already strapped, there's insufficient research that they're safer, and who would pay for them? This particular driver was well trained, and performed in an exemplary manner in a situation that none of us can imagine. And, as Shelby pointed out, school busses are safer than automobiles. The day after the accident, I learned that the superintendent of the Cottonwood schools had been superintendent in Monticello at the time that school had 11 students die in a bus accident. Then the next day, I got news that there was a wake Friday evening for a 7-year-old girl, the granddaughter of friends. Attending the funeral of a 75-year-old woman who had a full and rich life is one thing. But a child the same age as your own is quite another. I've thought about the grandmother so many times the past few days. And each time I said a quick prayer for peace for her. I know that the sun rose and set on this little girl, so far as her grandma was concerned. And now, after a nine-month battle with a rare brain cancer, they were burying this dear sweet girl, the light of her grandma's life. Someone close to me many years ago tried to convince me that friendship is bad. "Friends cost money," was the excuse. The explanation was that if you share in someone's joy (like a birthday or wedding), you must also share in their sorrow (like sickness or death). To this person, this was a bad thing. But to most of us, this is exactly what it's all about. We share life's important moments with each other, and the sharing benefits us all. Sharing sorrowful moments helps to diminish the pain, as if it were spread out over more people. And sharing joyful times only amplifies the happiness. As for that "island" who believed in not sharing any of life's moments, there's good news and sad news. The good news is that I cut him loose many years ago. The sad news is that he is living a very solitary, lonely life.