The moment she started crying, I could feel it in my gut. The pain was shared.

Youth is such a roaring light. We're drawn to it because youth holds so much possibility. So much energy and truth.

We admire it's unbridled enthusiasm and hell or high water risk taking, almost immortal in it's confidence. Youth holds on to the promise of forever.

Except they can't. They never do. And to see their roaring light grow steady and true in middle age, we admire all that light is able to do. No longer wild, it's focused and controlled, applied exactly where we need it.

And as that steady light eventually begins to sputter and smoke, we see it eventually lay down to begin it's last smoldering fade. We miss the light and it's wisdom, yet understand it was time to go.

But to see a roaring light suddenly go dark. Snuffed too soon. It's too hard.

And I hear my nieces crying. Their childhood babysitter was only 21. Just finishing school. Working a job. Giving it her all and doing it right.

Then one blink on the interstate, and that roaring light suddenly goes dark. It shouldn't happen to youth, and yet it still does.

Now we miss that roaring light. It hurts so hard. It's tough to know the reason. The meaning can't be clear. And yet we see through the pain. The more we miss her the more we know how brightly she burned, how much value her every moment offered us all. So cry and remember. Always remember. For this is the nature of light. It's generosity a gift to behold. The more we remember the brighter that light is able to continue glowing through us all.

In memory of Michelle Bruggeman, 1993-2015
And to my nieces, who grew up under her loving neighborly wing.