A high school friend was laid to rest yesterday. She was 27 years old. Although we weren't extremely close, I've taken her death in a certain kind of way since making the connection - emotionally bound by limited details and a c/o 2002 bond. I read the news article, "Woman, 27, killed by Amtrak train." At the time I didn't know that this "woman" was my friend. And once I did, it was hard to fight the images in my head of her standing in the path of an oncoming train, because, once the face and name filled in the blanks, the words of that article were received much much differently.
I researched every article online that I could find written about the incident, I read the comments that people left, I stumbled upon an article from a year ago about two other people who were killed by an Amtrak train in the same place, I wondered if my friend's death was accidental or a conscience decision, I felt a need to react-to protect-to enact better safety measures at that particular section of track, I felt sorrow for her bffs and family, I felt sick and sad and sorry for ever considering the same fate, and then I made a last minute decision at 10:00 the night before to attend her homegoing with the rest of our local high school family, and then I made another last minute decision at 1:00 that morning that I just couldn't do it. And then someone posted a picture of the photo memorial from her service and I knew that I had made the right decision not to attend. At this time, I wouldn't have been able to handle the sadness nor the grusome images plaguing my mind.
If this was the outcome of her own free choice, I can honestly respect that, and I can only hope that she is truly at rest now. If it was not her choice to leave her son behind, and even if it was, I am still deeply moved to look into the ways in which this particular stretch of track can be made inaccesable to pedestrians in hopes that it will stop claiming lives.