Sunday, October 25, 2009

Love, Hope, Light

I was sitting in my car trying to get to the house I was suppose to clean that day. It was early in the morning and for some reason, traffic was all backed up. Odd. Helicopters overhead. Strange. What was going on? I turned the radio to a local station .

An express train has hit a school bus at Algonquin Road and Route 14 in Fox River Grove.

Love....Hope.....Light.....The words that gave everyone the strength to go on. Someone painted them on an overpass.

I can honestly say that October 25, 1995 was one of the worst days in my life. Seven children died that day. Seven children that were doing what they were supposed to be doing on a cool fall morning. Just sitting on the bus going to school.

The bus driver was a substitute that day. She pulled up behind the car that was stopped for the red light and waited. She didn't know that the rear end of the bus was sitting on the railroad tracks. She didn't know an express train was barreling down the tracks. Music was blaring on the bus. Kids were talking on the bus.

Kids saw the train coming. They yelled at the driver. She didn't hear them, and if she did...there was no where for her to go. Kids got up and ran from the back of the bus. Too late.

The train slammed into the bus with such force that the bus was ripped from it's axle, spun around and landed upright in the grass next to the street. Children were throw out of the little windows in the bus onto the street.

I try most of the time not to remember that day. The media converged on our two little towns to the point where you couldn't go anywhere without cameras rolling. It was surreal most of the time.

Michael was a sophomore at Cary-Grove that year. I knew he wasn't on that bus. We didn't live in Fox River Grove. We lived in Cary where the school was. His friends. He had so many friends in the Grove. I grew up in Fox River Grove. That was my town. That was my school....and Irv's school....and our kid's school.

When something this horrific happens, you don't really know what to do. The sadness engulfs you like a heavy blanket. When the accident scene is finally go there. You go there to feel, or not feel, to weep, to stare, to go to the high school where everyone else is feeling the same pain you are feeling. You cry. The secretary that you have known forever says, "They are all our children aren't they Kathy?" You cry some more.

You want to do something....but what can you do? This is so beyond anything that you have ever experienced. There is no manual to tell you what to do when seven beautiful children are killed.

I could easily write for days and days and days about our experiences during that time, but I'm not. You can Google "Cary Grove Bus Accident" and read more if you like. I'm not sure how far back the archives of our newspaper goes, but it's the Northwest Herald.

It was a sad time, but it also brought two communities and all of their residents so close together. A bond was formed that I don't think will ever be broken. We all changed and in some ways, for the better.

Today I am thinking about those children and their families with love. Forever in my heart....Joe, Tiffany, Susanna, Stephanie, Michael, Jeff and Shawn.


Cathryn said...

There are no words to express one's feelings in a tragedy like this. Our little town had its share of tragedies recently. Nearly a whole community-active family was senselessly killed a couple of years ago. It has rallied our community in ways I never thought would happen.

Your title says it all. Thank you.

Oklahoma Granny said...

The families of those children, their friends, your community and you are in my prayers today.

Angela said...

Aw that is so terrible. It hurts when you have to just hear the news and there is not a thing you can do to make it better for anybody.

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aliceinparis said...

What a tragic story! Impossible to make sense of. I cannot imagine the sorrow that all those townspeople must have felt and the driver....she will never get over that.

jen said...

This is so sad. What a horrific accident.

My heart aches for their families, and for you all. I'm glad the townspeople had eachother as support though.

God Bless.

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