On January 29, 2016, a family in our community, the Fleming family, and a couple of their neighbors took a private plane to Cleveland to watch a Cavs game. I’m sure they enjoyed the game and each other's company, but, sadly, they never made it home.
The plane crashed into Lake Erie on their flight back home. There were no survivors.
An entire family—mother, father, two sons and the neighbors were now gone.
Mr. Fleming was a prominent business man. Mrs. Fleming was a loving wife, mother and friend. The oldest son was a high school sophomore at Olentangy Liberty and the youngest attended the Columbus School for the Blind.
I did not know them personally.
We belonged to the same country club, and I would smile and say hello to Mrs. Fleming at the pool or while dining at the club.
In honor of the lives lost, blue ribbons were tied to trees, lampposts and mailboxes. It still strikes me every time I see one. I wonder how they were acquainted? I wonder if the family knew that there were so many people who would notice if they were gone.
Do we all wonder these things?
In the classic Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the lead character George is given the rare opportunity to see how life in his town would be if he had never been born. What an amazing gift to see how every word and action shaped the lives of so many in George’s life. I wonder if the Fleming Family had any idea how much they mattered to so many people.
I didn’t know her name, but still her death mattered. I wish I would have been able to sit with her and tell her about my own daughter and her disabilities. How I had brought her to the club just like she did her son. How sometimes people would stare. I wish I could have offered her comfort in knowing that I had the same experience and that I saw her and her son and her beautiful soul.
I never made that happen, and now I never will.
Instead, I tied a ribbon to my lamppost and to my mailbox, wondering if she knew when she was alive how many people she had touched with her devotion. Because she did with me.
I hope you know how much you matter because lovely one, you do.