Sometimes the sadness is almost unbearable.
Take the case of Adrianne Robert, a girl who sparkled like no other. I had the supreme privilege of working with Adrianne for many years at the paper and then she moved on, to Florida. If I had any complaints about her during her Florida years it was that the Facebook accounts of her adventures made my own life seem occasionally too placid.
Adrianne was a girl who lived: She worked hard, she played hard and she sparkled. There are among us a rare few people who just seem to get a handle on life early, who seem to get it by the short hairs and never let go. It doesn't confound them the way it does most of us. They figure out what they're good at and throw themselves into it. They surround themselves with like-minded friends and they live. And sparkle.
It didn't hurt that Adrianne was bright and beautiful and talented, but I suspect she would have conquered the world anyway. She had that way about her.
And then some bastard came along and snuffed all of that out with one selfish, malevolent swipe. Like that, Adrianne was gone, and three weeks later, I still cannot look at those words and make complete sense of them.
Adrianne is gone. It's inconceivable, some kind of horrific mistake that hasn't yet been discovered. That a light that shined so bright could be so quickly extinguished is so sad and frightening. It's unbearable beyond measure.
My thoughts turn to her friends and family. I knew Adrianne only in a passing way and yet the loss of her hit me like a fist to the gut. What must it be like to have loved her? How do you cope with the knowledge that you can never see her again, or talk to her, or look forward to her next trip home?
Hearts break like thin autumn ice.
And what of the couple whose lives were ended in a split second because somebody couldn't keep his car on the right side of the road?
The husband is dead. The wife lingers in a coma. There is a daughter left behind to behold the wreckage that occurred simply because her parents were in love and because they took a nighttime ride on their motorcycle.
They were inseparable, I'm told. They were madly, passionately in love. A selfish part of me cringes at the fact. I'd rather they despised each other because it would be easier that way to ponder the arbitrary nature of the tragedy.
But no. If the woman ever wakes up it will be to the crushing knowledge that her true love is gone and what had been a happy life is now just scattered shards strewn across some roadway.
So sad that it's for certain easier not to think about it. But it's also unavoidable. It happens every day, this kind of soul-wringing sadness. In the time it takes you to read this column, a hundred people will have died senselessly somewhere in the world. Some of them you will know, some you will not. Hearts are being broken all over the place. It has always happened this way and always will. I sometimes wonder why all of humanity doesn't just perish beneath the never-ending rush of sadness, like a sandcastle lost to a constant barrage of waves.
But of course, we find things to mitigate the despair. In the case of Adrianne Robert, it may be rage — for the fiend who took her and for the circumstances that conspired to let it happen. Rage, bitterness and a hope for justice. You can never discount unalloyed anger and grim determination to get you through a long, dark night. It's fuel for the human spirit. It allows us to bow our heads, weep a little and move on.
Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. You can commiserate with him at email@example.com.