I did not know Chelsea King, the 17-year-old student whose life was snatched away from her as she jogged on a peaceful nature trail, but I feel like I do. She attended the high school I went to when I was 17; the same high school my 17-year-old son now attends. My son and Chelsea were on the track team together, ran the same event – the long jump – and the few times I saw this girl, she was dashing across a runway, gaining momentum, flying high, arms outstretched, legs extended for maximum distance. That’s what long jumpers do; they reach well past what the rest of us could do if we decided to see just how far we could go.
It doesn’t make any sense – what happened to this young girl. And sense is something we look for when our world is rocked. An answer would help, we think, but I wonder if there really is an answer we could understand. The question of Why is huge, the answer must also be huge; too big an answer to adequately satisfy, I think. A genius could probably provide me with the answer of what string theory is but it doesn’t mean I would understand the answer. I would still most likely walk away mystified and unsatisfied that now it all makes sense.
Yesterday the remains of a teenager missing for a year were found a few miles away from Chelsea’s last run. The paper says police believe the two events are unrelated. And I know what they mean, but of course they are related. Not to the offender perhaps, and only perhaps, but we as a community relate them. They both make our hearts break.
What we do know for sure is life is fragile. Aside from the fact that some people are desperately evil, life is fragile. And you only have the one life. Each day we are given to live out our fragile lives, we are building the legacy by which we will be remembered. We can’t always determine the scope and span of that legacy, but it is wholly our privilege to design it. No one can rob that from us. They can shorten it, but they cannot steal it.
In the sadness, there is that.