There are few things that make one feel more alive than a brisk morning ride on a Harley-Davidson. When that ride is on the first day of the New Year with about 50 like-minded souls, it feels as though all is right in the world… or at least our one little piece of it. Such was the case this morning as those of us from Sacramento rode up to Auburn to meet up with our Grass Valley, Nevada City and Auburn compatriots. By the time we left Auburn, the weather was perfect; about 45 degrees, no wind and the skies were clear with only patches of billowing white clouds dotting the horizon.
But all was not well in the world. Indeed, all was not well even in our little piece of it. Although all of the riders today do not necessarily “know” each other, we all are from the same community of folk. We all know of each other and we all are at least connected by mutual friends. It is a close-knit bunch. It was not until the ride was over and we all had gone our separate ways that we discovered a tragedy had darkened our day and put a damper on the jubilation on this, the very first day of 2008.
The daughter of one of our own was found in a swimming pool today. Not yet three years old, she could not be resuscitated. January 1st, 2008 would be the end of this toddler’s short life. Although I do not know the baby or her mother well, I know many who do including other members of her family. Word has it the family is in seclusion trying to grapple with this tragedy, and that is certainly their right and prerogative. Who could blame them? However, many of our extended family met up at our favorite coffee shop tonight to hold a vigil and remember the little girl and show solidarity not only for her family, but for all of us.
We tried to make some sense of it all. Why did this have to happen? Of course, no one knows. A little girl has passed; a family is grieving like only those who have experienced the loss of a child can know and an extended community of friends is there to help. It’s all we can do, for them and for ourselves. Has she gone to a “better place?” Define better. Quoting Neil Young, “There’s one more kid that will never go to school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool.” And let us not forget about those who would have been along for that ride. Her mother; her family; and an extended community of friends who have been touched deeply - even if we did not know her well.