On Thursday December 9, a dear friend of mine lost her niece, Krystal, in a traffic accident.
I won't go into the details of our thirty year friendship other than to say that my friend's niece was important to me. So, I was, and am, sad.
This post is, in one way, a tribute to a young life that ended too soon at 28 years old. And, in another way, it's a reminder to treasure and protect your relationships.
I knew Krystal well while I was in college at N.C. State. I met her when she was an infant, and I had several opportunities to take care of and play with her as she became a toddler.
It was around this week about 27 years ago that I watched her while my friend and her sister went Christmas shopping. I remember that Krystal was teething, we ran out of Anbesol, and I didn't have a car seat with me so that I could take her with me to go get more. I sat in a chair and held her for the better part of 3 or 4 hours even though I had homework to do. It was a terrible night that I remember fondly.
When she was about 2 or 3, I built Krystal a toy box with her name on the front in hand-cut wood letters. When I spoke with my friend on Thursday, I learned that Krystal still had that toy box in her home. That, too, was a happy memory.
Shortly after building the toy box, I entered the Navy and my life went away from North Carolina.
I'm sure that I saw her again when I visited my parents on trips home while I was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, but no particularly notable event happened that I recall right now.
Over the the next 15 or 16 years I got married, and I had my own kids. I still thought of Krystal often, I just didn't get back to Raleigh to reconnect with my college and high school friends and their families after my parents moved from there.
The last time I saw Krystal, she was around 20 or 21 years old. I was in Raleigh to do a workshop. I was only in town for one night, and she made a point of coming to see me for a brief visit. It wasn't a big thing except that she made the effort, and it meant a lot to me.
I'll likely be in Raleigh next summer to do another workshop. Looking ahead at my 2011 calendar, I have been hoping to plan an extra day or two while I'm in town to do some reconnecting. Krystal was high on my short list of people I would love to see. Now, I won't get that chance.
Over the last few days, I keep remembering the words of the song Blink by the group Revive. And that's the life lesson that goes with this post. Rather than tell you the words, I thought I would ask that you take the 4 minutes it takes to watch the video.
It's powerful, and it sums up much of what I'm feeling and thinking as I remember Krystal.