I lost a niece, a week ago.
Arielle was my sister’s child, and a college student. She was driving, probably too fast, on a twisty back road to take an exam on a rainy afternoon. She lost control of the car and was killed.
She was always a personality. She had flaming red hair and an outgoing persona to match: a character in a family of characters. She was particularly beloved by her siblings and cousins and as we discovered, by a large group of friends. She was from childhood, extremely animated and forthright.
Years ago, my father, who is her grandfather, affectionately nicknamed her “Whacko”. It has always seemed apt.
Often, as a middle-aged guy it is hard to keep up with the lives of your children, let alone those of your teenage nieces. Sadly this was the case with Arielle. I hadn’t talked to her much in the past couple of years.
Despite this, you are still connected organically with the offspring of your siblings, and the news of her death was a shock. My sister, her husband and her brother and sister were beyond devastated, but handled the tragedy with great dignity.
I learned over the last week, the joy she had brought great joy to a large group of friends. Her Facebook page exploded with grief. A crowd of young friends, along with her large extended family attended the wake and the funeral and gave witness to the impact that she had on her peers and loved ones.
There is no good in this, but I hope going forward, that some of the kids, who were touched by Arielle’s loss, will have been given a sense of their own potential mortality. Perhaps a young life will be saved.
Arielle, we miss you. I regret especially that I think that in your youth, you were much like your mother. I think that you would have matured, as she did, into a fine strong woman. That would have been wonderful. I will miss having that person in my life.
Goodbye Arielle. See you soon.