Here I go again having to pick some memories of AnnaLeah to share on her birthday. She would have been 22 today. How can that be? What would she have done today? How might she have changed?
For one thing, she probably wouldn’t want the spotlight to be shining on her. But she isn’t here to protest and remembering her — preserving the memory of her life and self — is all I can do for her now.
AnnaLeah Karth, May 15, 1995 – May 4, 2013
Some things I want you to know about AnnaLeah. . .
- My Favorite Memories of AnnaLeah (well, some of them)
- Time & A Grief Observed: Reflections from CS Lewis & AnnaLeah KarthToday is the day that AnnaLeah was born 20 years ago. Though she only lived 17 years (almost 18), she filled her time with imaginative & colorful activities and endeavors. Time well-spent.
AnnaLeah had a personal collection of over 600 books–most of which she had read. And she loved to create and share imaginative worlds with words. A wordsmith. . . Here is a poem she wrote when she was 12:
- AnnaLeah’s Very-Thorough 30-Category Booklist
- Grace Girls Appreciated AnnaLeah For over three years, AnnaLeah took care of the babies and preschoolers of moms who attended a morning Bible Study group called Grace Girls. She had a gift with young children. She enjoyed them and they loved her. The moms appreciated AnnaLeah and let her know so. Photos show a Christmas card she received from them, as well as a farewell card to her when we were moving away from Midland, along with lots of photos of AnnaLeah with little ones.
- Remembering AnnaLeah Two Years After the Crash :Two years ago, May 4, 2013, AnnaLeah went on her last journey on this earth. Little did she know it at the time.She had worked so hard before we set out for Texas to go to her sister Rebekah’s wedding and college graduations of four older siblings. We were going to be moving into a new home on the Fourth of July. So, she had packed up most of her possessions in preparation for sharing a bedroom with her older sister, Susanna. She had sewn a lovely dress for her niece’s birthday. I was so proud of her.
Then, it all came to an end.
I wanted to share this memorial photo slideshow which her older brother Isaac and sister Susanna put together two weeks later to share at the girls’ funeral. We remember AnnaLeah and the day she was born, May 15, 1995; she would have turned 20 today. Forever 17.
- I love the glimpse which this video gives of AnnaLeah and the delight she had in giving books to her niece. . .
This “short film” was a little play which AnnaLeah wrote, starring herself and her sister Mary. Makes me laugh and smile and feel like they’re still here. . .
AnnaLeah Builds Her Hobbit Orphanage
AnnaLeah and Levi joined other youth from Grace Lutheran in Midland, Texas, in a servant event. Under the direction of DCE Eaton they thought that they were going to build a storage shed at Camp Lone Star in 2010. AnnaLeah knew that it was really an orphanage for hobbits! See them hard at work in this fast-action short video…
How would Mary have celebrated her 17th birthday today? Well, I don’t know for sure. But I know that she would have enjoyed making her own homemade pizza with us tonight. (Or would she have chosen something else for her birthday meal?)
I know that she would have been glued to the TV or her computer watching the Olympics. She loved watching the 2012 Summer Olympics!
- Mary LOVED watching the Olympics!!!
- Guess who would be getting ready to watch the Olympics…(wish they were)
Mary would have played with her dog which she was going to get when we moved into our new house three summers ago. She loved dogs!
Video of Mary with Django (October 2012, Warsaw Indiana): https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/videos/574678849281300/
Whatever she would have chosen to do on her special day, Mary would have made the most of it because “every day’s a holiday with Mary” and she knew how to live joyfully — when she wasn’t grumpy, that is.
I just discovered that the photos below were ones that Mary took on August 6, 2012 — the day she became a teenager and the last birthday she would ever celebrate:
I also just noticed from these photos from her camera that Mary gave her beloved Gertie a bath on her 13th birthday (the beloved stuffed toy given to her by AnnaLeah so many birthdays before).
Notice the photos Mary took that same day of some of her favorite books (probably her birthday presents from AnnaLeah, whom I can’t ask to be sure) — including an American Girl one about a gymnast!
Mary would have held Oscar today.
I know that Mary would not have read my post from yesterday because I would have had no reason to post it:
And Mary would not have checked to see how many people had signed the Traffic Safety Ombudsman Petition because I would not have launched it:
I would not have spent Mary’s birthday getting ready to post an Underride Roundtable Consensus as a Public Comment to NHTSA’s underride rulemaking at 11:59 p.m. on her birthday. (Link to it on the Federal Register)
And I most definitely would not have launched a new petition on Mary’s birthday to ask NHTSA to mandate SIDE GUARDS on trucks so people wouldn’t die from going underneath the sides of trucks:
Please sign & share these two petitions in memory of AnnaLeah and Mary, whom we miss more than we could ever say.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
Stuart Townend & Keith Getty, Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music
UPDATE August 2, 2016. PLEASE sign & share the Petition to President Obama to appoint an advocate — a Traffic Safety Ombudsman — to fight for safer roads: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/384/321/600/end-preventable-crash-fatalities-appoint-a-national-traffic-safety-ombudsman/
So what does a person do with the anger and frustration which inevitably surface in the aftermath of a truck/car crash fatality (or case of serious life-altering injuries)?
That’s what I would like to know because I have experienced it and have observed others — in similar situations — dealing with it as well. And it is not your normal grief (if anything can be called that). Because, in addition to the loss one has experienced, one also often discovers that perhaps the loss was unnecessary — but nothing (or too little or too late) was done to prevent it. Imagine your reaction to that situation.
Then too often one might discover that, not only was nothing done in the past that could have prevented one’s loss, but, on top of that, there continues to be nothing tangible done to prevent future crash fatalities and serious injuries. What then? How would you deal with the feelings upon that realization?!
Indeed, despite decades of safety advocacy efforts to draw attention to the problem of traffic crash fatalities, too little too late is being done to move us toward zero crash deaths and serious injuries.
When I saw a Tweet the other day quoting Senator Chris Murphy as saying that survivors of the Orlando mass shooting experienced a “second layer of grief” “when they realize that those who expressed sympathy won’t take action,” I could relate to it.
And besides which, it turns into not just a matter of struggling with trying to forgive but an intense conviction that there is a good chance that wrongdoing was involved. Wrongdoing for which there is apparently no genuine accountability or liability. Because if there were, then wouldn’t we see change?
Just yesterday, I read a facebook post by a man who had lost his wife in a truck crash and whose son became permanently disabled from that same crash. Most days, the dad is upbeat and handling the hardship of his new life with grace. But at that moment, it seemed like he was experiencing the straw that broke the camel’s back. He confessed that, at that moment, he was feeling anger towards and hatred for the truck driver responsible for the crash.
The truth is that, probably in most truck crashes (and other traffic-related crashes), there usually are multiple factors which have led to the initial collision as well as the final outcome. And the sad fact is that, too often, the tragedy could have been avoided.
Are we doing enough, as a nation, to work on solutions to those things which could be prevented? I don’t think so and I have been calling for our leaders to adopt a National Vision Zero Goal, to set up a National Vision Zero Task Force, to adopt Vision Zero rulemaking policies, and to appoint a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman.
The opposition to the requirement and manufacture of the safest possible underride protection on trucks is an example of something which could have been taken care of a long time ago but instead is a problem for which there has not been a truly effective solution–in fact it seems to have been deliberately opposed or at least not made a priority to get to the bottom of and resolve.
A few days ago, I went on a walk in the woods and shared my thoughts spontaneously on this matter:
Do these situations make it harder to arrive at the forgiveness discussed by one writer? Forgiveness is one thing. But when there is no tangible change, and my button is repeatedly pushed, then, of course, frustration and therefore anger wells up over and over again. And that certainly is not healthy–not for the victim’s family and not for those whose actions contributed to the deaths.
I wrote about what it was like to face the truck driver whose actions led to our daughters’ deaths: The Court Hearing; Update On Our Trip To Georgia
Now I am struggling with this question for myself: Can my anger at the injustice of criminal negligence (as well as the continued inadequate resolution of countless Traffic Safety Issues) ever be fully resolved if the negligence is not acknowledged, punished, or made right?