-Bethani Thomas, Opinions Editor
I once wrote a very short story about a kid who was running away from a tragic event that had occurred in his hometown. He attempted to jump onto a train to flee but was dragged through gravel instead, tearing up his legs and knees. Finally pulling himself up onto the platform, he died a slow death as the train chugged speedily along.
Even in his misery and pain, I wonder if my character, this kid, would’ve gotten off the train if he could have. Was he thinking, “Stop this train,” or was he relieved just to have escaped?
John Mayer writes, “Stop this train. I want to get off and go home again. I can’t take the speed it’s moving in. I know I can’t, but honestly, won’t someone stop this train.”
About a year ago this week Ashley Greenway passed away suddenly. Then at the very beginning of Christmas break Sean Gauley was in a car accident and passed away the following January. On Friday, August 29th, Kelly O’Mahoney’s life was taken after a yearlong battle with a brain tumor. And the train didn’t stop.
In the wise words of poet Langston Hughes, “Life ain’t no crystal stair.” And still the train doesn’t stop. No matter what hits us in the gut, there’s no stopping.
Mayer’s song continues, “See once in a while when it’s good, it’ll feel like it should, and they’re all still around, and you’re still safe and sound, and you don’t miss a thing ’til you cry when you’re driving away in the dark, singing, ‘Stop this train. I want to get off and go home again. I can’t take this speed it’s moving in. I know I can’t ‘cause now I see, I’ll never stop this train.’”
I write this article to those of you whose lives were affected by these deaths. The mourning is still deep in your gut, sitting there like a swallowed brick, and then another blow comes. These events have occurred and you’re reeling from the reality of it, and yet, the train doesn’t stop.
I don’t have great encouraging words to offer you. But, as I sit in my room right now, I hear the distant train methodically moving by and it’s almost a comfort. The precisely timed whistle blows, to let out necessary steam and pressure, and then it keeps pushing and pulling those iron arms, around and around and around.
I could go way deep into this metaphor with things like the burning coals have to be shoveled into our lives in order for us to cover more ground, or, Christ has provided us with a track to follow, listen to his voice and don’t become derailed…
Instead I’ll say this: life is not slowing down anytime soon. Unfortunately, even when we’re yelling, “Stop this train!” it’s just not happening. Homework assignments are still due, midterms then finals week still come, and most of you will never fully recover from experiencing such grief. But I want you to know that we support you. Your friends, student body, and fellow Choctaws all mourn with you. We may not fully understand your level of mourning, but we are all on a similar train ride.
The passing train’s mechanical whirr is fading now, but I know it’s still pushing on, even through the dark night. And although we want to jump off sometimes and find our way to safety, I think there is comfort in the train’s ceaseless journey. There is comfort in knowing that when we take a blow, and we’re down for a little bit, the earth still rotates madly around the sun. And the beauty in that constant, the rhythm of the push and the pull, can revive us, and awaken our heartbeats again.