Lost time

I got another reminder this weekend that life is a precious thing, never to be taken for granted.

It had been a nice weekend. After arriving home Friday from school and work, we ate supper, and the girls wanted to continue our “Cosby Show” marathon. We finally made it to the show’s eighth and final season. And we let the girls stay up later than normal, watching at least a half-dozen episodes past 10 o’clock – though Kates and I found ourselves dozing on our couches for most of them. … 

Then, after getting the girls to bed – and with some light-energy, thanks to our light napping – Kates and I retreated to the den to continue our “Outlander” marathon, which lasted until about 2 a.m. ... I have a love-hate relationship with the show because it's extremely gory and graphic – which is not at all my kind of entertainment – and I just want Claire to get off the island already. But the story-telling is compelling enough that it holds my interest, and it's something to do with Kates, who loves the novels.

Saturday morning, the girls had us up around 9. Eventually, I retreated to the den to work on projects and watch the Chiefs-Titans playoff game
The Chiefs are known for rolling through the regular season only to fail spectacularly in the playoffs. That didn’t change Saturday when Kansas City dropped a 22-21 heartbreaker to the Titans. 
The Chiefs have won just one playoff game since the 1994 season, and they haven’t won a single playoff game at home in that span. Saturday was the team’s fifth home playoff loss in a row, dropping the Chiefs’ postseason record to 2-6 all-time in Arrowhead Stadium.
That was something. The Chiefs looked so efficient and unstoppable during the first half, taking a 21-3 lead, that the analysts were talking Super Bowl – and I believed them. But there was another part of me that knew the Chiefs’ playoff history all too well and thought, They’re totally going to blow this lead. … Sure enough, they did.

Kates and I watched more “Outlander” Saturday night and headed to bed shortly after midnight. Little did I know, I’d be awake again within a couple hours …

*     *     *

A little after 2 a.m., I awoke thinking I’d just heard my phone ding with a text message. It took me a few moments to compose myself in my stupor and I turned over my phone look at the screen. A student had been reported dead. Assuming no foul play or natural causes, I sighed and tried to get a little more sleep, figuring our team would gather for a briefing when daylight broke.

Several minutes later, my phone rang and I knew then that it was going to be more serious. But I never could have expected the news I got when I answered the call. A car had crashed into one of the downtown bars. A student who was inside the bar was killed by the impact.

Our emergency team gathered at at 4 a.m. to begin sorting out the facts and crafting the communication to our campus. It’s never easy when a student dies, but this case was out of the ordinary. The worst case we’ve had to deal with in a few years.

The more we learned about the girl, the harder it was to swallow. She was 19 and one of our education majors. She was active in her sorority. She was well-liked by her classmates, instructors and supervisors. By all accounts, she was a driven, confident person with a beautiful soul. She was going to be successful teacher and impact a lot of lives along the way.

The young man who was behind the wheel of the vehicle that crashed into the bar and killed her was driving drunk. His blood alcohol level was far over the legal limit.

Once our tasks were complete for the time-being, I drove home, trying to comprehend the last few hours. Now I was awake and wouldn’t be returning to bed – at least for a while. So I pulled into the garage and slipped down to my den to work until the rest of the house awoke.

I lasted for about an hour and a half before I found myself struggling to keep my eyes open. When I stepped into our bedroom, I spotted Faye snuggled next to Kates, and Kates had her armed wrapped around Faye. They looked so content and peaceful. And innocent. My heart melted and I slipped into bed with them, grateful. And praying that Kates and I may never experience the horror of losing either of our girls too early.

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