I've been watching Facebook today, as one by one, my son and his friends have posted pictures of a friend who died yesterday in a car accident. They are posting pictures of themselves with this young woman, a friend from high school. The photos are beautiful--young people relaxing together, talking on the beach or the lakeshore, in the golden light of a setting sun, their arms draped around each other's bodies in comfortable, familiar friendship.
They were friends in high school, and now they're away at college. Rachel died in South Africa, where she was studying. My son is in Germany this term, and he's traveling this week. But there was a photo he kept on his phone.
Each photo collects many, many "likes," a ritual for sharing grief. Parents click like, too. What else can we do?
Life is beautiful and precious and I swear, twenty-one-year-olds know this better than I do. Life is a summer evening with friends and a few beers. It is the breathless morning view from the top of a mountain and the evening fire on the beach. It is the dreams shared in a basement rec room, the discussions in the dark about the meaning of life.
And life is everything you hope it will be when you are twenty-one. I'm sure of it tonight. Sweet and sad and wonderful, each moment.