A newborn baby's innocence. The trickling of clean water in a stream. Woodland animals caring for their young. We all know this, and yet we live our days filled to the brim with no time to step back and contemplate that truth. That beauty. We all do it. It's life. It's the world we live in. Or is it?
For one of my close neighboring towns that question has come full circle. It has reached its tentacles, crossing my community's borders as well. This article is one I wish I didn't need to write.
On Saturday evening, people gathered at a farm about an hour from my home to enjoy pumpkins, corn mazes, and haunted hayrides. The farm is well known for ringing in the Halloween season with flair, so it attracts many and a lot of those are teenagers. It's a tradition unique to the fall season. No one would ever equate such innocent family fun with tragedy. But that's what happened. An amazing girl lost her life, when the Jeep hauling the trailer for the haunted hayride lost control and crashed. Her boyfriend was severely injured also, and many others suffered injuries as well.
Cassidy (in colorful headband) with
her CMU (Central Maine United)
premier soccer team.
Cassidy is a teammate on my daughter's premier soccer team. (I simply can't write was, because she's still here through words like this and the hearts of so many.) Along with other girls from surrounding towns, they've played soccer together for years, sharing victories and defeats and the all-important sleepovers. We consider her family our friends, spending weekend tournaments with the team or gatherings at their home. Her smile and soft wit will be missed beyond the words I could ever write here. A bright soul taken before her time. At the top of her high school class, she had more potential than most. Her community and neighboring communities are devastated.
Her life touched many, from her high school soccer team, the premier soccer team, elementary school classmates at a Catholic school, older classmates, friends, and her beloved family. For the most part, when someone passes people share positives from their life. Sometimes you wonder if the person was really that good. In Cassidy's case, it is all true. Her infectious smile and laugh lit up a room and made you feel better. The gentleness in her face welcomed you. She possessed a humbleness that only comes from Grace beyond any of us, and she shared it willingly. Knowing her affirms there is goodness in this world.
She gained that goodness from an incredible mother, father, and younger brother. They are some of the most genuine people I have ever known. Her mother has taken my family photos for years, always taking such care over my four children. As I write this all I can think is This can't be happening.
It was early Sunday morning when I received the text of the accident. Initially, shock was felt - a dull, numb sensation of disbelief. But as that wears off and reality sets in, the gravity of loss plummets to a full arsenal of emotions. Making sense of this is the first reaction. It's what we do in our human skin. But pursuing that is a losing battle. As a close friend shared with my daughter, "This will never get better. It will only get different."
People are coming together through candlelight vigils and posting the above imagine in support and honor of Cass. Some are organizing fundraisers to aid her family with expenses, but also for the family of her boyfriend, who is in a Boston hospital with sever injuries. Cassidy's teammates from all her teams are honoring her from wearing blue ribbons and their jerseys to painting blue hearts with her number on their faces. Our boy's soccer team wrapped a single stripe of blue tape on their arms to honor her during yesterday's game. This will be a long road of grief and questioning for many. I ask for your positive thoughts and prayers for the family.
We attended a vigil for her last night outside her Catholic elementary school. As tough as it was it was as beautiful. The tears, the laughs, the memories, and the heartfelt longing for her needed to be shared. Former teachers, friends, teammates, and even people who didn't know her attended. A gentlemen approached my husband and asked if we knew her. He revealed that he did not know her or the family, but just had to attend in support. His heart was genuine and heavy.
After, Cassidy's CMU soccer team gathered at a coach's house. They talked, tried to eat a little ice cream, and cried. Eventually, laughter sprung up as they embraced cherished memories they'd shared with Cass. They questioned why. Before they left, the coach had them sign a special table. The last signature was for Cassidy ~ a big heart with her CMU #4 filling it up.
The outpouring of compassion testifies of Cassidy's wholesome influence in this world, and that we have the same responsibility to affect others in affirming ways. The manner in which she lived each day has made a difference. Her inspiration will inspire positive effects in many. Her life threaded numerous lives, and last night she brought us together. Though she is not physically here any longer to spread her light, others have vowed to do that for her. You and I need to do the same.
There's nothing I can do for her parents but offer a shoulder to help shelf their grief. It's not enough, but it's all I have. It's all any of us has at a time like this. But we can also take a moment to respect life in its frailness, cherish what we still have, and never lose sight of a beautiful life that added such hope to the world ~ Cassidy's legacy.