An ad promoting a trip to Glacier National Park

I’m writing this post on January 18, and remembering.

Remembering that, 15 years ago, January 18 was a cold, clear Tuesday.

Remembering the first three hours of a road trip, driving our daughter Bethany back from a year-round-school January break visit to my parents, her grandparents, down in Georgia.

Remembering the last glimpse I had of her alive, just a flicker in the corner of my eye as I focused on a speeding black pickup that had suddenly crossed the center line.

She was looking up.

In the space of a heartbeat, she was looking down.

Parents in the “I’ve lost a child club” can’t help but wonder what their child’s life would be like if he or she had had the chance to live it. Jan was also wondering today.

Bethany was seven years old when she died, about seven weeks short of eight. Second grade. Loved by her classmates, who liked her jokes, and by her teachers, and by her friends at church.

Would she have kept her blond hair and her sense of humor and her bubbly spirit through high school? Would she have finished college in four years and be settled in her first real job by now? Would she have found someone special to love? Would she have remained close to her parents?

I don’t know.

What would she think of the world these days? Would she be in full postmodern mode, or more traditional? Would she be focused on making money and having fun, or making the world a better place? Would she have wanted to join the Peace Corps or be a missionary?

I don’t know.

But, I’ve learned it’s okay not to know. Questions about what might have been, in the end, are all moot.

What I know is that Bethany lived a full life for those seven years and ten months or so that she was here. She brought great warmth and joy to her family and her friends and her God — who offers hope that we will see her again.

No one can take that away.

I write these words, remembering …

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