While tragedy is something that we often brush against at the newspaper office, the death of a child never fails to affect us deeply and is news we hope never to have to report about.
Immediately I felt my heart contract for those involved. Even though my children are now almost twice that age, all parents know the specter of fear that young drivers bring their families.
You want to keep them safe, but once they can drive it is so much harder to guard them from menace, whatever form it takes.
I never knew Cheyenne Gabrielle Heard, a senior at Creekview High School who was the victim of the tragic accident.
I am acquainted with her mother and her mother’s husband, Nichelle and Tim Stewart, owners of Rockin’ S Farms. We even had an article about the farm and the family in our Cherokee Life magazine this summer.
There it tells of how the family went into farming full time in response to the recession and how the seeds they planted at their farm in Free Home have taken root and matured into a thriving business which includes a presence at the Woodstock Farmers Market and a children’s camp.
Farm Camp, as it is called, offers youngsters a chance to learn about agriculture and where food comes from, but it teaches much more about life as well.
The end of the article tells of how the family takes pride in the fruits of their labor and loves their community.
They are shining examples of Cherokee County residents who still remember their roots even as they embrace the future.
Now for them, that future is forever changed.
As a community we mourn for them, but there is a sense of peace too that she has found a place in heaven.
Looking at the photos of Cheyenne and seeing the comments on Facebook about her work with children at her family’s camp, her love of life and her warm spirit, it is hard not to wonder why these tragedies happen.
Only our faith can see us through, as there are no real answers to this kind of loss in life.
Someone who is close to the land knows that as the Bible says, there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.
A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to tear and a time to mend.
The time was all too short for this beautiful young lady.
Her mother touched my heart when I read something she wrote about how fragile life is and how we have to cherish each moment.
That is the lesson we need to learn from this. Don’t take life for granted, your own or that of someone you love.
Everything can change in a split second.
Take time today to hug your children, tell your spouse you love him, call that friend you haven’t connected with in a while.
Appreciate the little things of life, a full moon, a good meal with family, a chance to walk in the sand and hold hands.
Rain on the roof, growing things in the garden, the seasons of the year and the seasons of life, kids coming in from school, simple things that define our lives.
I always remember when I was 16 years old and my uncle, who was 64 at them time, died. My 88-year-old grandmother was heart-broken.
She told me many times that she did not want to outlive her children.
I remember all these years later that the preacher then told my grandmother that God often brings home those who are precious to him before it seems it should be their time to go, that we cannot understand, but we must believe that God has a plan.
Friends of Cheyenne remember her as riding her horses and being kind, of laughing and loving. Her spirit is beautiful, from all I hear about her.
The community is still in mourning for this young girl, and her parents and family are in all our thoughts and prayers.
We must look to the light and away from the darkness to find peace in this hard time.
Rebecca Johnston is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune.