Friday, January 4, 2013

My Heart is Heavy

My heart is heavy today. Tragedies happen all the time, but then it hits close to home and you just can’t comprehend why things happen as they do.

Yesterday was a day of shock and sadness. Let me begin by saying none of the things that happened affected me on a personal level, they did not happen to me… but yet they did affect me on an emotional level.

Yesterday morning my co-worker came into my office to tell me that one of the truck drivers we insure, a regular client that we speak with all the time had contacted her to report a claim. A fatality. He hit an individual with his truck-tractor and that individual was dead. The driver was in shock as you can imagine. I don’t believe it had still fully registered with him that this tragedy had actually happened, that someone was dead.

The news made our local news and newspapers, so I don’t feel that I am divulging any personal or professional information. This is the story as reported on bakersfieldnow.com:

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A 63-year-old man is dead after walking into the path of a semi truck on Interstate 5.

Ira Eugene Bennett, of San Diego, stopped his car around 5:30 a.m. Thursday on the shoulder of I-5 between Millux Road and Bear Mountain Boulevard, southwest of Bakersfield. He called the California Highway Patrol and reported having medical issues. The CHP didn't give specifics of the medical problems. Arriving officers found Bennett's car but not Bennett.

Officers found a stopped big rig about a half mile up the highway, and the truck driver told officers he had hit an unidentified object. A search of the area revealed the truck had hit Bennett, who had walked into the northbound lanes of I-5.

The CHP didn't say whether it had determined exactly why Bennett stepped into traffic.

I’m not sure what Mr. Bennett’s medical issues were, but I do know that our client, the trucker will never forget this. He will never forget the sound the impact made as he hit this poor man.

I had a friend who was a truck driver, his name was Oscar. Oscar was driving West on a local highway in clear weather and coming up to an intersection where he was had the right of way and no stop. The other person had a stop sign. The other person did not stop.

Oscar told me that as he looked down from the cab of his truck he saw the face of the woman looking up at the oncoming truck and on her face was sheer terror and then he saw her mouth something which he thought was “Oh God” and then he hit her.

Oscar never forgot or got over that moment. He continued trucking but his confidence was gone. He hesitated at intersections. Every day that he had to go out there and earn a living for his family was sheer hell and he didn’t have any relief from the fear and stress until he turned the key to the off position and parked the truck for the day.

Now this other poor truck driver will always and forever remember that tragic day. All day long my coworker and I commented on how badly we felt for this trucker and our hearts hurt for him and the family of Mr. Bennett.

After work, sitting in my chair at home, getting ready to watch a little TV I get a phone call from my brother Fred who is calling to ask me if I heard about the suicide. My brother is also a truck driver and I just assumed he was talking about my client. So I told him yes, the trucker was one of our clients. Fred said, “No, I’m talking about your neighbor.”

As it turns out, my neighbors across the street from my previous house where I had lived for four years had suffered their own tragedy on Thursday as well. This is the story from our local news:

SHAFTER, Calif. - The Shafter Police Department is investigating an apparent murder-suicide. Officers say the bodies of two elderly people were found just after 7 a.m. Thursday and their deaths have left many community members in shock.

Shafter police say the bodies of an 84-year-old woman and an 86-year-old man were found inside their home, a place neighbors say they lived for several years.

Police are not releasing their names, but say the husband stabbed the wife a number of times and then hung himself. This all happened on the 200 block of Walnut street in Shafter.

Police say family members found the bodies after they went to their home to check up on them. According to neighbors, the home was sold and the couple had plans to move into a nursing home.

The neighbor says the couple left behind three adult children. Two live out east and their oldest daughter lives in Bakersfield.

A neighbor we spoke with – who did not want to be identified, says she is still in shock over their deaths. “They were good people, good neighbors. They attended church all the time. I’m extremely hurt and I’m hurt for their children and for what they are going through right now,” said the neighbor. She also tells us the 84-year-old woman use to be a teacher before retiring and her 86-year-old husband use to work in the oil fields.

I have to agree with the neighbor they interviewed. They were good people. When I first bought the house across the street from them, my sister and I spent about a week cleaning and painting the inside and the woman came over right away and introduced herself and invited us to her church.

At Christmas the first year she brought us a plate of cookies.

When my mom moved in with me a year after I bought the house the woman came over and introduced herself to my mom and would frequently invite my mom over for coffee. She and mom became walking buddies and would walk early in the morning after my mom came home from church.

I would frequently see the woman and her husband around town on their daily walks and I went to the yard sales she had and once purchased the whole set of the Left Behind series of books from her.

Her husband would be out puttering around in the yard every day and they seemed like the perfect couple. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors but I believe they loved each other very much and if he did stab her I choose to believe he was insane due to old age or perhaps some medication he was on or maybe he just didn’t want to go to a nursing home.

My mom had run into them a few weeks ago at a local restaurant and the woman told my mom they were selling their house and moving into a nursing home as she needed help caring for her husband.

I am so sad to think that this couple that had been together for so many years both met such a tragic end. I am so sad for their children who will always wonder what their mother suffered at the hands of their father, maybe even doubting that the father killed their mother, that maybe someone came in and made it look like a murder/suicide. I will always remember Johnie and Claudine with fondness and picture them walking around our neighborhood always talking to each other.

I don't understand why this had to happen to them and to the poor truck driver. I just don't understand. But my heart is heavy.




17 comments:

  1. Wow, it is tragic for both families and it does leave me with a heavy heart too. It's just so sad.

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    1. Yes JarieLyn. The older couple was especially tragic. Married for years, for all intents and purposes they seemed like a happy couple. Always together and my mom says when Claudine spoke almost every other word out of her mouth was about her Johnie. We never know what happens behind closed doors, I just hope that they didn't suffer too much and my heart goes out to their children.

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  2. Life is full of these tragedies known only to the people close by. I feel for the driver of the truck - this will have changed his life.

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    1. True...that poor driver will always have the memory. I know there have been times I've hit a dog and once I hit a bird that flew at my windshield and I was jumpy every time I got into my car after that. This is unimaginable.

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  3. Oh, dear! Two tragedies in one day! Just too much. The old man must have had dementia.

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    1. That is what I believe too Lynn, or some type of medication affected him adversely. I don't believe he was in his right mind when he killed her.

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  4. So many tragedies. It is sad, but life goes on. I know it's easier said than done, but I have lived through some tragedies that made me realize, life is short. It's more depressing when it's children that passed than when it's older people. The older people lived life, but the children have not. Like what happened in Newtown CT. Now that made my heart hurt and it still does.

    I hope you feel better and don't get depress. Like you told me; life is not fair and then we die.

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    1. Amen to that my friend. Yeah, you know what I am speaking of and understand how tragedies happen yet life does and must go on. Newton also was a terrible tragedy and we looked at it from afar and held our babies close to us and counted ourselves lucky that it happened to someone else and not us. No one can even begin to comprehend the pain the families and parents left behind are dealing with. Life is not fair but it has it's blessings, like your little Samantha and Stefany and my Jim and April.

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  5. Alicia,

    I am very sorry to hear about the tragedies suffered by people that you know. We are constantly bombarded by bad news such as this and I think to keep from going crazy, we build a wall around ourselves. Yes one feels bad, but it is bad at a distance...a controllable bad. Then something like this happens to people that you know, even tenuously, and it just comes rushing in how much tragedy occurs in the world. One feels much worse when there is a connection. It may pale compared to a family tragedy but still it brings a sadness that can be surprisingly intense.

    There is no understanding for these incidents, and yes, your heart will be heavy. As much as that may hurt, it speaks volumes of your humanity and the basic good that is in your heart.

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    1. Thank you Sextant. As you know, I worked in a funeral home for several years and yes, you do build a wall around yourself, you have to in order to be of any help to the families, but sometimes...when it hits close to home it's just that much harder.

      The first responders at Sandy Hook I'm sure found that for the first time they were unable to put up those walls.

      So much sadness in this world. I guess that is why when something beautiful happens we need to embrace it and enjoy it and squeeze every last drop out of it and allow it to fill our hearts with joy as tragedy fills our hearts with heaviness. Thank you my friend.

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  6. This touched me deeply. Because three years and seven days ago we lost someone who was like a third daughter to us. She was going to be seventeen in three weeks. She pulled out in front of someone driving a pickup and died at the scene.

    That pickup drive was holding her as she took her last breath. As recently as a week ago I was looking him up (again) on the internet because I want to thank him for what he did for her that day. My heart aches for his trauma, too.

    I hope your trucker can recover from whatever guilt he may feel, justified or not. He has my prayers and love.

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    1. Thank you Tammigirl. I am so sorry about the tragedy in your life. What a sad story. That poor pickup driver! I do hope that he is ok and that you were able to contact him. Traffic accidents are never easy, especially when it truly is an accident.

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  7. Alicia, I always decide not to contact him because I don't want to cause him pain. But I really wish I could hug him and give him thanks from the bottom of my heart.

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    1. I totally understand that and I am so sorry for your loss.

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  8. One never knows what awaits one at the corner.Man made tragedies, Nature disasters, happen everyday and fill our hearts with deep sadness. May the victims of these tragedies have peace!

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  9. I don't know if this information is worth sharing, but I will anyway. The man who walked in the path of a truck and was killed was facing serious criminal charges in Maryland. It is likely he committed suicide. It certainly was no fault of the trucker.

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