Just this weekend, I interviewed the parents of Justin Bradfield. At age 11, Justin was hit and killed by his school bus in Janesville, Halloween night 2011. Justin’s parents, Kim & Ryan, are truly wonderful people. We were standing in Justin’s room looking at photos of him, and I was just struck by how much this family has been through and how they’ve had to stay so strong for their other two children. They’ve kept Justin’s room just the same as it was the day he passed away. It was chilling to be there after covering the fatal accident. I have never cried during a news story, but my eyes welled up with some tears standing there in that bedroom. When I left their company, I just couldn’t help but think how incredibly difficult it has to be to lose a child. Then the wind chimes on their porch started to blow gently. The family told me these chimes don’t sound often because of the wind’s direction at their home. So they say every time they move, it’s Justin’s spirit with them. There came the goosebumps again. I found myself praying for them that night, and thanking God for the beautiful son Floyd & I share in Drake, and asking to be reminded of how precious a gift life is.
Then comes yesterday. While I was working at my desk, Floyd called me late afternoon. That’s not unusual, but when I answered and we exchanged our common “How are you?” greetings, he said, “Have you heard what happened in Elsberry?” I had not. (Elsberry is my home town in Missouri.) He’d read online in several places that a young lady named Jillian Young had been killed in a car accident. Jillian’s grandfather and my grandfather worked closely together for years at Forrest Keeling Nursery in my hometown, which my grandfather founded. After my family members reached retirement age (my dad and uncle), they sold the nursery to Jillian’s mother and grandfather and family. Our two families have been good friends, colleagues for years. I remember when Jillian was just a little baby, having my picture taken with her at the town Halloween contest. She’d grown up into a beautiful young lady, involved in school, and at 17 years old, had a bright future ahead, no doubt. My heart just breaks for her mom, Kim, her brother Bo and their entire family. I prayed my heart out last night for comfort and peace. Such a tragedy shatters your whole world and just shakes you to your core no doubt. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a fairly minimal scope of loss compared to a lot of people I’ve known over the years (some of you readers included.). But one thing I have come to affirm strongly through the past few years in particular is how no loss, no problem, nothing– is too big to take to God. He knows just the right thing to say, the right scripture to bring to heart, and the best ways to comfort each of us in our time of need. I will continue to pray for the Lovelace-Young family. Their hearts will never fully heal, but some new understanding and need for the Lord will hopefully break through the darkest of days and provide some solace. God rest your soul, Jillian.
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This post was written by kmashek on March 5, 2013