When tragedy hits home
The writer is husband of Connections advertising manager Darlene Warren.

By John Warren

BIG SANDY, Texas-This has been a difficult time for many of us in the Big Sandy area. Most of us have gone through trials in our lives that have a lasting impact. Probably the biggest shock any of us face is the death of a loved one.

Even if in our past we have experienced the death of someone close to us, that doesn't seem to soften the blow when we hear the news of another death.

On Friday afternoon, April 28, Karen Woodring, her daughter and a friend left Big Sandy heading to Tulsa, Okla., to attend a wedding. Before they reached Tulsa, tragedy struck. An automobile accident resulted in Karen's death.

We are all thankful the other two passengers in the vehicle will be okay, although one of them, Karen's 16-year-old daughter, Caroline, at this writing is still hospitalized in Tulsa. Caroline's friend Candice Burgin suffered only minor injuries.

The big question

It seems like when an accident happens the first question is how did it happen. Then the big one hits. Why did God allow this to happen?

This is a tough one because we don't know why, and there is no way to get an answer now. Now is when we really want to know. We need an answer.

At church on the Sabbath things were not the same. Just last week we had sat in services together on a holy day. The teenagers were their typical fun-loving, happy-go-lucky selves the last time we were together.

But on Saturday some of the teens couldn't even go to services. Others needed to be there.

We all face these difficult times in our own way. I find comfort in other people, but some have to be alone to try to work through the tough times.

Death is the enemy

We all have hope in the resurrection when we die, but that doesn't stop our grieving when someone else is taken from us. It is so painful to know a husband is without the wife he loved. Two children are without the mother who cared so much for them and dedicated her life to them. Family and friends have a hole left in their lives.

A scripture aptly depicts this fact of life. Death is an enemy. I think we have every right to hate that enemy. We look forward to the time when that enemy will be destroyed. We know the time is coming when all tears will be wiped away. That time is not now. Today is a time for tears.

Karen was known at church and in the community for her involvement with her kids. She was always on the go to see that her children were cared for. School, church dances, camp-outs, trips, whatever was going on Karen was there. She seemed to have boundless energy.

Because of her involvement with her own children, she came in contact with many other young people. They all have been shaken by this accident. It was just last fall that many of us got together for a camp-out in Beavers Bend State Park in Oklahoma, where kids from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas spent a weekend together. You guessed it: Karen was there to enjoy those kids along with her own.

Many of you remember Karen from her college days (she was Karen Gardner from Aptos, Calif.) or her time in the WCG in Tyler.

I knew Karen only from the past few years when we started attending services together here in Big Sandy. She was one of the many whose volunteer help provided us with our church building.

Prom prep

Just a couple weeks ago she told me about the prom Caroline was preparing for. It just so happens that my nephew Nick is to be her date. We hope Caroline will be recuperated enough to attend. You know how mothers are about their daughters and the school prom. Karen didn't even try to hide her excitement.

What can we do?

At times like this there are no words to express the pain, hurt, loss and anger we feel. All of us who have gone through this before feel it all over again. We feel just as helpless as last time. We want to make things better. We want to be able to take the pain and loneliness away. We want to at least understand why.

Why did this happen? Why now? Why to Karen? Why to Gary, Caroline and Bryan?

I don't know the answer to those questions, but there is another question I have been asked that I would like to talk about. What can we do to help?

Each of us has to decide that for himself. I know all of us are praying for the family. For some that is all we will be able to do. For others the opportunity will arise to give words of comfort, and at times maybe the best we can be is a willing ear. I know I have trouble at times like this knowing what to say.

All I can say to Gary, Caroline and Brian is that we love you and we wish we could do something to help.

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