As I sit here looking at the clock, I realize that it has been 24 hours since the lives of so many changed forever. Taylor Bowman, a Ballinger High School junior, was killed July 16, 2014 between Ballinger and Talpa in a one vehicle accident. As reported by DPS, she swerved to miss an animal and lost control of her vehicle and was ejected resulting in her death. I write this today not as one who works for ballingernews.com and is supposed to report the news, but I write this as a former teacher of Taylor and someone who has watched this young lady grow up from a giggly 11 year old sixth grader to a beautiful, successful young lady. One major blessing of being a teacher is the close relationship that is made with the students that walk through your door everyday. That blessing, however, can lend itself, as I have learned too many times over my 21 years of teaching, to heart-break as so many of us are feeling today and in the many days to come.
Heart-break comes in many forms at times like these. The 6:00 news is featuring Taylor's story as "one of tonight's top stories", the pews this morning at the First United Methodist Church held our grieving children trying to make sense of everything, the Bowman home is filled with grief and disbelief at the loss of a child, and our community is just simply trying to hold each other together with not only the loss of Taylor, but the loss of Brooke Abney last Sunday. Our hearts break for these two families as well as for the family of Evan Wilson and the feelings and emotions that come with their struggle. As I learned this morning at the church, there are really no words that can be said that really do any good. Being together, offering those much needed hugs, giving a shoulder to be cried on many times, and a whole lot of silent prayers are things that help the most when words simply don't work! Over the next few days and even weeks, we will be presented with many struggles and needs. However, if there is one thing that I have learned about Ballinger after living here for 10 years, it is that there is no doubt that the Bearcat spirit that Taylor embodied to the fullest will rise in all of us and those needs will be met.
As the day winds down, I am so proud of our kids that seem to be moving from shock and disbelief to people of action as I know Taylor would want them to be! Instead of this evening being remembered for the tragedy of what it was yesterday, it is instead being filled with ribbons for Taylor being made, plans being talked about for ways to remember Taylor, and even a little shoe polish for Taylor finding its way to our car windows! My prayer for our kids and our town is that we all take away lessons from both of these tragedies and that we use them to make our time on this earth more productive and worthwhile. I know first hand the legacy that Taylor is leaving with our students both young and old and I pray that they purpose in their hearts to seize the opportunity to make something of what she has blessed them with. I pray that as adults, teachers, parents, or anyone simply reading about a girl from a small town, we take the drive, determination, and passion that Taylor had for everything that she did and the impact that she made and use it to be better people and make those around us better! Otherwise, events such as this are left as simply a tragedy rather than a way to become better and honor those that were lost.
We would all be wise to recognize that our time in this world is a fleeting moment and as hard as it is sometimes to get out of bed and face the day, we should be thankful that we have another one to face. I know personally for me as a parent, I have no words to express how either family must feel as to the loss of a child whether they be 16 or 35. I take away from this that my woes and worries really aren't that woeful and worrisome anymore and to remember that when I start feeling sorry for myself, it could always be worse!
Finally, I know there a lot of people asking "why". I nor anyone else can answer that question. We live in a world full of good, but also full of evil. There are two powers at play and those are the powers of a God, full of love and grace, but also a god full of evil and darkness. It is in times like these that we must believe that the God of love and grace will turn a horrible situation into something good and true if we will allow Him. We must not let the darkness that Satan wants us to dwell in to win and consume our emotions, because if we allow it, he most certainly will. For those that are believers in Christ and have made him the Lord of their lives, this is not the end! Reunions for all eternity await those of us that are alive and remain here on earth. As the day dawned, I and many others had thoughts of today's weather being a reflection of how our town feels as far as dark and gloomy. However, as we all try to move forward, maybe we turn our eyes towards today being a beautiful day with the blessings of much needed rain and the fact that Taylor's heart was in Christ and that she now sits with Christ to be beautiful, talented, and loved for all eternity!
No better time than the present for us all to purpose in our hearts to leave this world a better place because we were here! For us all, if this were you or me that were being written about, what would others be saying about our life? Forward is the only true direction we can go from here!
With Most Sincere Thoughts--Cinnamon Carter (Ballinger Junior High teacher and ballingernews staff associate)
Funeral services are still pending at this time and we will pass along that information as we are made aware.