Recently in my travels I visited a forest preserve, an experimental forest used by a major university as a forestry school. When one visits such a place, one expects to find an assortment of fauna and flora.
Trees reach to the heavens. The tree tops form a canopy where the blue sky and white clouds are like an elegant portrait hanging down an elongated natural corridor.
With hundreds of acres you have horse, hiking and walking trails. One can see the droppings on the trails and in the distance hear the neighing of horses.
Along the trails you have a vast array of trees living and fallen. Each fallen tree may appear dead to the unobservant eyes, but various insects and forest creatures have placed their grubstake on these fallen giants who once touched the sky. Their tree song may have ended, but their pieces swarm with life.
A river runs through this serene habitat. On the river bank on one of the trails was a memorial bench for a young man.
I did not know the young man. I did not recognize the words:
It lights the green fog on the hill
It burns in shooting stars
as wishes are fulfilled
Glowing as bright as fireflies
Yes, through the darkness
my love shines
And in the darkest hour of night
Moments before sleep comes
and dreams come into sight
Just know that you are on my mind
And through the darkness
my love shines
Researching the words I discovered that they were from a song—Through The Darkness sung by Tiger Army. To be honest I never heard of this trio before my research.
The memorial is in a place that this young man must have visited often with family and friends—perhaps a family or school outing. In the reference below it was the hangout for him and his best friend.
One must assume that this young man who died at 18 in a tragic accident had a love for Tiger Army as well as other music. Teenagers embrace music which older people find strange and sometimes disconcerting, but we who are older were once teenagers listening to our LPs and 45s; watching American Bandstand, Shindig, Hullabaloo, Hollywood A Go-Go, Shivaree, The Lloyd Thaxton Show and Ed Sullivan; and toting our transistor radios with strange sounds and names like Herman’s Hermits, The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Monkees, The Zombies, The Ronettes, and The Beatles.
Being a teenager has never been easy on this planet traversing the cosmos. Finding one’s place in society is always difficult as you emerge from teenage to adulthood with its responsibilities and demanding obligations to home, community, and country.
The national average of teenage deaths in the USA is about 17,000 per year with accidents being the leading cause. Each of these young lives leaves behind a grieving family, friends and teachers.
The potential of youth to change the world is lost with each death. Sadly as time rolls over the dales and vales of our communities what remain is a memorial stone or bench which a future generation may pause and briefly wonder—who was this person, if they take the time.
The young man’s name was Charles Smola. He was called Charlie by his family and friends.
There are many Charlies or Susies who have left behind a vacant seat at the family table, church pew or classroom. Life is very finite on this earth.
Treasure each moment. Not only live but thrive.
Take time to remember. Never avoid a parent or spouse who has lost a loved one to tragedy. A part of them may be gone, but your presence and words of remembrance and comfort may brighten their day.
Death is our eventuality. Our legacy will be what we did with our time on the road of life and those we touched with love and compssion.
G. D. Williams © 2013
Charles R. Smola (March 1 1987 – November 9 2005)