Life is short. Time is the one thing so much of us squander, not thinking about the value it truly has in the big picture of life. We are too focused on the day-to-day dealings of work, school and, often, we do not look at the big picture. Life's grand scheme, when you look at it, is beautiful. In birth. In death. But I say we squander our time because we don't live enough. We don't live life without regrets, to our fullest. We are fearful of what others will think much of the time, and it's a horrible trait to waste so much of our lives worrying about. I just want to encourage every one of us to be honest with ourselves. Live the life we want for us, not for that guy in math class you have a crush on, and not for your editor. Live life for you. Make time for you. Be you.
All of this stems from an assignment that got me to think about life. So, the assignment was a candlelight service at the 4-H Fairgrounds Memorial Garden on Sunday, a service to remember, to commemorate all of the children who have died, and those who have lost children to come cope with that loss around others who have been through a similar tragedy in life. This photograph depicts one family who has been through a lot in the last 14 months. The family lost two different members to different vehicular accidents. The first was a motorcycle accident, the other a four-wheeler. One man was 44. The other 16. The elderly woman in the photo lost her son and grandson, a tragic reality I hope none of us ever have to face — losing a child or grandchild. The family was incredibly strong though. Why? Because they had each other. I was able to get every name, quotes and really talk to them in such a trying moment of their lives. They let me in. For that, I am eternally grateful. The Kluesners (other last names as well, but the family's root name) were simply admirable to be as strong as they were, and continue to be.
Back to the life discussion though. I, myself, was in a vehicular accident recently on my way back to Jasper from Michigan just last week. It wasn't much damage to either vehicle, and was more jarring than anything else. Accidents on the road have never bothered me. I've always stayed calm and collected, even when my front driver's side tire flies completely off at 70 mph. The thing is, I could easily have been unfortunate in any of these cases. I don't really understand how lucky I am to be in such good health and getting by without any injury in these situations. I've taken that for granted, through and through. I am incredibly lucky to have caring friends and family in my life, and wanted to say I am undoubtedly grateful for each of you in your own way. Thank you all for being in my life.
Carol Kluesner of Jasper, second from left, held her granddaughter Kennedy Kieffner of Jasper, 11, and was surrounded by other family members Sunday at the Our Precious Angels memorial at Dubois County Park. About 50 people gathered at a candlelight service to commemorate the lives of children who have died, and Carol’s son Terry and his son, Benton, were among those remembered. Also pictured, clockwise from left, are Zuniga Kluesner of Princeton, Whitley Kluesner of Jasper, 17, Mallory Alles of Jasper, 17, Debbie Beckman of Jasper and Rebecca Kluesner of Princeton, 9. Terry Kluesner died May 13 in a motorcycle accident, and Benton died Oct. 3, 2010, in a four-wheeler accident. “To be with people who have had the same tough luck you’ve had and to have my family here with me, it means everything,” Carol Kluesner said. “Together, we’re going to make it through. It’s a tear-jerker, but we stay strong for each other.”