Life is precious, and fleeting

Funny how plans can change in a heartbeat. I was driving home from Columbus on Sunday afternoon in a miserable rain storm and was planning in my mind about what this column would be about. I thought about a really sarcastic Reds theme or a bad luck Bengals column, but all those ideas went quickly out of my mind when I got home safely and heard the horrible news that came out of West Union that evening.

Life is precious and fleeting. We all found that out on Sunday evening and when it is young people involved it hurts even more. Not that there is any good time for a tragedy like this to happen, but the holiday season compounds the pain. Children are a special gift that we are given and when they are taken away far too soon, it just seems so unfair and really makes us question a lot of things that we always had faith in. Add in the fact that far too many young people have lost their lives in the county in the last few years and it becomes even more of a tough pill to swallow.

As parents, we all dread the time when we might get that phone call. We had that call a few years ago and thankfully our son wasn’t hurt, though it was a traumatic experience for all of us. I can’t even imagine the call that went to a pair of West Union families on Sunday evening. It is every parents’ nightmare.

I did not know the young lady in the accident but I did know Dillion Grooms from summer baseball, so when I heard the news I immediately looked back at some of my pictures that I had taken then to see if it was the same young man, and unfortunately it was. I remember Dillion playing for West Union and I remember him just as many of you do, as a polite and respectful young man, and a hard-nosed and tough baseball player. If my memory is correct, I may have seen him try the catching position for the first time, which is no easy task at all.

As those of you who read this column loyally know, a lot of my happy memories revolve around time spent on a baseball diamond and I know that this week many of Dillion’s teammates and opponents are recalling the same things. It was heartbreaking to hear that he and Haley had just gotten engaged and were ready to spend their life together and that was all cut short, at least here on earth, in a matter of seconds. I don’t understand that, you don’t understand that, and I am certain that two local families don’t understand it.

When we arrived here at the Defender office on Monday morning, we knew we had to report on the accident as it was the biggest news story in the county, but deep down we also wished we could just leave it out completely. As editor, I was very cautious in our gathering of information, wanting to be sure that we got none of the facts incorrect out of respect for the families. I hope that the story we ended up with does a fair job of reporting the facts and is not too difficult for the families. Through the whole process, I wondered how I would react to such a story and tried to use that as a guide. It’s impossible for me to know if I’m totally correct because I have never been in their situation and my heart mourns for them just as the whole community does.

If you are like me, you worry every time your kids are out on the road until you either hear their car pull in the driveway or hear them come in the door. At that moment, it always seems like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. That weight never went away on Sunday night for two families, it only got heavier and heavier. Why? That is the question we can never answer. Why do some people live to be 100 while young people like Dillion and Haley are taken at 18? It will be repeated over and over that God has a plan but that doesn’t mean we have to like it, just have to accept it. That may be one of the most difficult tasks given to us here on earth.

All of us here at the Defender send our thoughts and prayers to the families of Haley and Dillion and just like everyone, we wish we had answers, but there are none out there at the moment. On Sunday night right after I heard the news of this horrible accident, my son came downstairs and said he was going to drive to Maysville to eat with some friends. How badly I wanted to say, “just stay home,” but I didn’t, but I worried just a bit more that night until he walked back in the door.

How we wish that Dillion and Haley had come home and walked through their family’s doors on Sunday, but I guess they were meant to walk through a different door that night.The message that many of their friends have posted on social media seems appropriate, “Fly high!’

Mark Carpenter

Sports Editor

Reach Mark Carpenter at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.