Tragedies happen every day, all over the country. Parents, children, loved ones, they pass away in sometimes horrific or senseless ways. We know this, but it doesn’t stop our hearts from breaking a little more when we hear stories like these awful deaths in Illinois. A home fire killed five people, including four girls attending a slumber party.
While details of the lives lost haven’t been made public, the coroner of the small town says that the victims included a mother, her daughter, niece and two friends. The oldest child was 15 years old. A father and two sons escaped the flames, though the dad was burned trying to re-enter the house to help the girls.
This tragedy hits the town of Sherraud, Illinois, a village with about 640 people, a couple hours west of Chicago. And it brings back some haunting memories for me personally, of another fire that killed a group of friends at a sleepover. My twin cousins were 16 years old when they died due to a house fire, leaving their small town in Central Michigan, and my dear Aunt, with unbelievable grief.
It simply doesn’t feel like enough to say that we’re sorry for the victim’s families. It never felt like enough to say to my aunt and surviving cousin. I have always marveled at their strength in moving on from such an incomprehensible loss.
Deaths like these, ones that come during the innocence of childhood sleepovers or in the safety of a kindergarten classroom like at Sandy Hook, they are difficult to get out of your system, whether you know the victims or not. We can relate to the scenario. These tragedies are both terrifying in their familiarity and heart-breaking in their loss.
Tonight, I’ll hug my daughter tighter as I think of those families in Sherraud. I will call my aunt, not to rehash her past wounds, but simply to say that I love her and to remind myself how strong people can be, how they can move forward after these awful events. And tonight, I’ll shed a couple tears both for my cousins a decade ago and for a new batch of lives lost too soon.