In the pictures, you can tell they are brothers — they look so much alike. Their light-brown hair is thin and straight. Their mouths are big and wide, and I can just picture how great their grins are when they show their teeth. Their chins have matching little clefts, and I can see mischief behind those lively eyes. They remind me so much of how I imagine Daniel and his brother might look at that age. Maybe that's why the deaths of these two little boys, Hunter and Jesse Javens, ages 9 and 13, of Cottonwood, Minn., have stayed in my mind all morning. I can't stop looking at their pictures on the front page of the newspaper, along with the other two children who were killed in the school bus crash in southern Minnesota.
I don't mean to minimize the losses of the other two children in dwelling on the Javens brothers — not at all. All four deaths are tragic, made even more senseless by the reports that the woman who sideswiped the bus, causing the accident, apparently was not in possession of a valid driver's license and wasn't supposed to be on the road. It's just that my mother's heart identifies in a particular way with the mother of the two brothers with the hanging-down hair and big mouths and eyes so full of life. It's just too easy to imagine it being my boys, and that fills my heart with sadness.
It's so easy for me to get caught up in my own world of "What if I die of cancer before I see my boys grow up," but this reminds me that you never know when or where grief and tragedy will sneak up on you. I know there are people in this world, including friends, who know this all too well — who have had loved ones jerked from life so unexpectedly, whose own lives will never be the same because of it. It has never happened to me, and knowing that people I care about are dealing with the real thing every single day, it feels a little strange writing about sadness stemming from something that happened to people I don't even know. But the imagination is a powerful thing, and this is where mine has been today.