eruyter, Truxton, Cuyler. People from these rural small towns are hardy stock. It takes a lot to move them. Last night they discovered their breaking point. Eight people riding in one minivan. Seven killed. Four of them are children ages seven, five, four and four.
The magnitude of the tragedy has lifelong, hardened farmers fighting back tears. Where does a community find solace during times like this? They find it in the arms of each other. They find it in the loving embrace of the wider community. They find it in quiet conversations with pastors, friends and family.
Yet still the image returns of a tractor trailer carrying several tons of crushed metal slamming into that minivan. We know from the firefighters the crash scene exceeded any tragedy these veteran first responders had seen before. The deaths of all involved were immediate. What we don't know is how those four children spent the final moment of their lives.
We pray that inside that minivan Alyssa, Tyler, Alexis and Jasmine remained blissfully unaware. They were among family. Alyssa and Tyler's father Shawn survived. Alexis and Jasmine's mother Teresa did not. Carino and Lena were also close.
We envision the children napping as they enjoyed the ride in the car. We see them smiling and playing with each other. We hear them singing along to a favorite song.
We must allow ourselves to hold in our hearts those joyful images of children. Anything more is nearly too much to bear.
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