Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I was recently informed of the loss of a former classmate.

I met Lori Powell when I moved to Ohio for my junior year of high school. She played the French horn in band, orchestra and a few other musical groups in which I was involved. She was a year ahead of me, but much friendlier to the "new kid" than most in a fairly insular community.

Her father is a physician and she thought about going pre-med - I was leaning in the same direction, so when I looked at colleges, I ended up following her to Calvin College in 1994. She decided on biology/education, while I parlayed my bio studies to pre-dental. My junior year, she was in a terrible accident. You can read a bit more about it here on Calvin's prayer forum.

Amazingly, I was on the road the same weekend with some friends, on a ski trip, and we chuckled over some near misses. Upon arriving back at school and hearing about the accident, I found new relevence to the expression, "There but for the grace of God go I..." which really bothered me, since all the students in the accident were really GOOD kids...why not me?

Anyway, Lori lived with her family, who cared for her due to severe brain injuries sustained during the accident. I remember when my brother, Peter, died, Lori's brother, Justin, was at the viewing. He was in band with Peter as I'd been in band with Lori and he let me know that his family was praying for mine. At the time I remember thinking that I wasn't sure which family was "worse" off....mine for losing a 14-year-old entirely, or Lori's for "losing" the life she had had as she prepared to graduate from college and become a teacher. You can study life and you can study what it means, but you can't answer those questions....

Lori died this month following a bout with virulent pneumonia. I have to believe that she had a key influence on:
1 - keeping me sane in high school
2 - my choice of college, which, philosophically and educationally changed my life on a daily basis
3 - my decision to pursue health care as a career.

I know that Lori's family has no doubt that they will be reunited with their daughter after thier own passing. But if you're so inclined, I'd encourage folks to remember them in their grief.