Monday, November 19, 2007

17-Year-old neighbor dies in head-on collision

Our neighbor boy, Tom Earhart, age 17, a senior at West Linn High School -- a boy whom my kids grew up with and my daughter recalls playing basketball with outside of our house, and they meandered with another neighbor boy Max Stiglich through the woods and creek by our house. Tom, the boy with the bright blue eyes and blonde hair, the boy who came over for Easter egg hunts in our backyard and who worked at the bakery his parents owned, who was in the same kindergarten and first grade classes that my daughter was in – he died two days ago in a head-on collision with a semi truck.
Tom was the passenger in the Toyota Forerunner that swerved into the semi-truck’s lane, and the family is devastated. Both families. And the community of West Linn is in shock. And so many people love Sourdough Willy’s, the bakery that Tom’s parents own. It is a neighborhood fixture, 21 years here.
It’s a place my 4-year-old Augustin and I walk to during the week for the best chocolate chip cookies and the most amazing sourdough bread. And those Sticky Buns and Grace the mom of Tom lets Augustin sneak behind the counter to assist her and always asks her, “So when are you going to get more bubble gum balls for your bubble gum machine?” and Grace Earhart always responds, “I know, I have to do that.”
And sometimes Tom and brother Al, Grace’s sons, are there at the bakery helping out and I have noticed lately how much those boys have grown and we see Will the baker there and we love that place. And their daughter Gracie, who graduated from West Linn High last year, spent many days at our house, hanging with us, baking Christmas cookies and coming to birthday parties and being like another daughter.
Gracie is the one who called me to tell me the news of her beloved brother, Tom, dying. Through tears making words hard to understand, she told me of her brother’s death. Tom was heading to spend Thanksgiving with his friend’s grandmother, and he did not make it, and he will never spend another Thanksgiving on this earth. It is a dark and rainy day.
And there is so little you can say, you can really say nothing. The only thing you can do is hug them and that is what we did, and they wept in our arms and Will said to pay it forward, to love others, to be there for them. And ask them to talk about Tom and how they found out and what stories they remember.
Grace told me of the knock on the door, when the State Trooper came to her door with a hard knock at 10 at night to tell her the news and she did not know what to think of the police at her door and they told her point blank that Tom died in a head on collision on the way to Klamath Falls and she was stunned. This does not happen to us. As a parent, the pain is so deep and there is nothing that can take that void away, and you feel so deeply for them. My daughter, also 17, drives a lot and sometimes she talks about road trips with her friends and I get afraid for her yet I know I cannot shield her and she has wings and loves adventure, and as parents we are glad our children want to experience life, so we let them go.
And say a prayer to God.
And give thanks for each and every day we have with our precious children, the most amazing gift from God.

7 comments:

Linda Austin said...

Oh, my heart cries for the family and friends of the boys. I, too, have a 17-yr-old daughter eager to test her wings, driving an hour or two away on road trips while I sit home fearful. Each day really is a blessing and we must love as though each day could be the last. So, so sorry.

Cornelia Becker Seigneur said...

so true that each day is a blessing and I always tell God and think and pray that I would never wait until tragedy srikes to remember that.

Cornelia Becker Seigneur said...

so true that each day is a blessing and I always tell God and think and pray that I would never wait until tragedy srikes to remember that.

KreativeMix said...

My heart goes out to all of Tom's family and friends. Thank God for all those who touched his life in one way or another!!!

Cornelia Becker Seigneur said...

Yes, touch lives while we can...and with Thanksgiving here, remember to give thanks for all in our lives.

len20 said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friend. My prayers are with you and Tom's family.

Cornelia Becker Seigneur said...

thank you so much. with a daughter 17 and driving this hits home - give thanks to God for every day we have with our sweet children.

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