While my kids were climbing a tree outside the local elementary school yesterday afternoon, I spotted a small rectangular stone with this message:
IN MEMORY OF BIANCA WEBSTER
FROM THE CLASS OF 1994
I found this incredibly, incredibly sad. I didn’t know Bianca Webster. Have never heard of Bianca Webster. And that’s sort of what’s sad about it. We put up rocks and bricks and signs to remember people, but we rarely remember people. Were Bianca in 6th grade in 1994, she would have been 11 or 12 at the time. Which means, in 2010, she’d be a full-grown adult, 27- or 28-years old, perhaps with a husband … kids … a career … a life.
I’m not sure how I became this way, but I’m often haunted by the deaths of people I never knew. Especially young people. After I wrote the Tyler Ugolyn story for Sports Illustrated in the week of 9.11.01, I kept thinking about this 23-year-old guy, and what would never be. The wife he’d never marry. The kids who’d never be born. The highs. The lows. It’s so arbitrary, and when people insist things happen for a reason, I laugh. If you want to tell me there’s a God—great. If you want to tell me everything has been neatly planned out—no way.
No way it was pre-arranged for Bianca Webster to die.