During the year, weather is always changing and not very predictable. It was a November day years ago that dawned clear and cold. Four brothers decided to go hunting in spite of the cold. We were hunting rabbits with a beagle.
My house was the meeting place and we hunted on neighboring farms. As the day wore on, it warmed up greatly. By lunch time, all our coats were unbuttoned or worn around our waists.
We hunted probably six hours until we were exhausted. It was getting near 3 p.m. and we were thirsty. I can't remember how many rabbits we harvested, but this day was special because we walked and talked and talked some more. You can do that while hunting rabbits. They don't spook far ahead and run out of sight the way deer do.
We had a great time just telling and re-telling stories. It also was great to hear that beagle do what he was born to do. He ran his little legs off and barked his heart out.
This perfect day was coming to an end when we stepped out to the intersection that leads to The Locust Campground. Just then, a motorcycle came roaring around the corner. I was amazed that anyone would take that turn so fast. My brother, the trooper, yelled, "I'd never catch him in my state car." My brother, the RN, yelled, "He's gonna' kill himself."
I looked down and heard a loud bang. When I looked up, there was what appeared to be a cloud of smoke. It wasn't smoke - the motorcycle was water cooled, and it was the contents of the radiator thrown back on a hot engine. There was steam high in the air.
The four of us took off running toward the steam. A lady driving a car had attempted to turn into Trinity Plastics. The car was flipped on its roof in a large drainage ditch, and the young motorcyclist had been thrown through the passenger-side window by the force of the accident.
I made a conscious decision on the way up there not to look. I had a brother who was a trooper, even though he was dressed as a civilian. I had a brother who was a nurse, even though he wasn't in white. I averted my eyes and looked away as I passed the scene. In time, local EMTs and law enforcement showed up. We gladly yielded to the local people.
A young man was dead and a woman seriously injured. I struggled mightily to make sense of the whole scene. This was a bonus November day that probably wouldn't be back until at least April. It was gorgeous with a sun so bright that it hurt your eyes. It was a day to remember always. And I will. So will a mother and a father, probably siblings and of course friends. That young man I didn't know broke my heart that day. How much more so his mother. Everything happens for a reason, or so they say. I have no idea what the reason was that day.
I'm sorry if I've dredged up a painful memory for his family. I would like to tell all young people that, yes, your life is yours to do with as you please - taking chances with speed or drugs and alcohol (those weren't present here) is your choice. But don't ever say you're the only one who'll be hurt. Your pain is over quickly. Your family will suffer long after you're gone.
Jay McCaulley is the production manager for The Sentinel. He can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.