Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On the Wings of Angels

My commute to and from Parsippany has taken on a bit of a sadder edge the past several days. To get from home to here I drive past a roadside memorial that is equal parts touching and heartbreaking. It is a memorial created by the friends of a young girl born and raised NTSG ('Neath The Snow Globe) whose life ended far too soon less than one week ago.

Brenda Reina was only 18 years old when she died last Friday afternoon in a one-vehicle car accident. To my knowledge, I never met her and I do not know her parents. Yet one does not have to know the young woman to have an appreciation of the havoc wrought by the death of one so young and one whose life remained ahead of her. This youngster was not my daughter. Yet she was someone's daughter. Neither her mom Michelle nor her dad Dominick wanted to be cast in the roles that they have been forced to play this week; those of parents mourning the loss of their teenage daughter.

Brenda died only a day or two after having graduated from Middlesex High School as a member of its Class of '09. There is not a rule but there certainly should be that no parent should have to endure the experience of planning for a child's graduation and funeral within one week of one another. No one should have to endure what Brenda's family is enduring this week. No parent should have to bury his or her child. Especially when the child is but 18 years old.

The outpouring of love and friendship that Brenda's classmates and pals have displayed is self-evident. I know not for how long the deer and the other animals who roam the woods adjacent to Route 22 shall leave this hand-crafted memorial undisturbed. And I know not for how long the officials of Bridgewater Township shall allow it to remain either. I hope that both allow it to remain there for an indeterminate period of time. It was erected to honor the life of a cherished friend whose time here ended far too soon.

If memory serves me correctly from both my own high school graduation and the graduations of my two kids, recent graduates tend to congregate at parties for several weeks thereafter. The shindigs are one part celebration of what has been accomplished and one part celebration of what is to come. Today, Brenda's friends and classmates shall join her family at a gathering none wanted to attend. One that sadly thrust itself onto their calendars with little to no prior notice.

As a parent, you hope like hell that when your kids are not within your field of vision they are nevertheless safe. It is a fear held equally by those of us who belong to the tribe of parents, the fear that we shall outlive our child. It seems unnatural. One needs not know Brenda's mom and dad to empathize with them over this incalculable loss. For those of us who are parents, we grieve alongside of them today. And we hope like hell that the day does not come when they are in the position to return the favor.

Today the family and friends of Brenda Reina shall gather together to say goodbye to her one final time. And to wish her well on her journey as they entrust her to the angels.



Timtropolis said...

Dear Kenny,

My name is Tim and I am Brenda's cousin. I happened to be online looking for a news article on Brenda and I came across your post. I wanted to thank you for the wonderful words in your posting. Its nice to know in a day of distance in the world that someone can take the time and lend heart felt sympathies to strangers.

The best to you and your family and once again thank you.


Anonymous said...

Dear Kenny,
I also am family to Brenda, I am cousin to her father. Until now, the only posts I've found online about Brenda's accident have been from heartless people complaining of the endless hours of traffic they had to sit in while the highway was closed. I found your article to be comforting and soothing, recognizing the grief and sorrow her family and friends are experiencing. I hope the police will allow the roadside memorial to remain standing as a reminder to all how quickly and easily a life can be lost. Again, thank you for the kind words about her parents, her family, and friends.

Angela Reina (Galluzzo)

Adam Kenny said...

Tim and Angela:

As a parent, one hopes never to be in the position that Brenda's parents were in this week. Best wishes to them, to both of you and to all of Brenda's family and friends. You'll need one another to work your way through this terrible time.

Adam Kenny