The week before Christmas and I’ve been sick. The past two days have been a complete wash. My husband brought me chicken soup yesterday, and my sweet little cat has provided a warm log of comfort as I’ve drifted in and out of sleep, never getting completely through any one of the Hallmark marathon of Christmas movies. But I count myself as hugely blessed because I am alive and will join my family shortly for all the festivities of the season. Not so for another woman who has haunted my thoughts over the past six days.
On her way from southern California to Oregon to be with family during the holidays, she was staying not more than 30 miles from where I live. This past Saturday she drove to a restaurant in Jenner by the Sea, set along the Pacific coastline, to have dinner with friends. They spent three hours eating crabs then left in separate vehicles to drive back to her hotel. It was raining as she pulled her mini-van out behind their vehicle. After driving only two miles south on a stretch of highway along the Russian River, they noticed she was no longer following them. Turning back, they searched desperately for her to no avail and finally called the Sheriff’s Office.
The next day investigators turned their attention to the river after discovering a fresh set of tire tracks cutting across the 15-foot-wide grass shoulder of the southbound lane of Highway 1 and dropping over a 20-foot bank into the river only a half-mile from the restaurant. There were no skid marks on the highway, but they detected an oil sheen on the river’s surface near where the tire tracks ended, indicating a vehicle might be resting on the river bottom.
It was my birthday –and I was grieving for a woman who I was certain would never again celebrate hers.
The rain-swollen river made the two-day search for the missing woman challenging. Following the news each day I knew it was only a matter of time. Sure enough, on Monday her vehicle was recovered. She apparently got disoriented during the storm and ended up driving into the river where she drowned. She was only 62.
Photo: THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Live each day as if it were your last . . . tomorrow is not promised. ~Author Unknown.
Later today I will join my children and grandchildren on Christmas Eve. We’ll bake and decorate Christmas cookies, a tradition we started when my children were little. Then comes the stockings hung by the chimney with care, and tomorrow all the warmth of family interaction, affirmation and peace.
More than ever, I’ll cherish each and every moment we have together –with great joy.