Wylie's Sister City

Over the past week, it has been affirmed to me time and again, just how much I love Wylie. I love the close-knit community feel we have here and I was reminded of this numerous times last week as I celebrated the beautiful life of my great niece and also mourned the tragic loss of it.

Very few people leave a legacy in their lives, if ever, so it is truly rare to find a teenager who not only left a legacy, but sowed love all around her. How could the light from this beautiful, artistic old soul in a young body be extinguished to early?

On Monday, May 1, 2017 I answered my brother's call to hear, "Alaina was hit by a car after school and is not expected to make it."

I cried out. How could this happen?

As the story unfolded, it turns out Alaina attempted to cross the street as she walked from her middle school to the high school for theater practice, and accidentally stepped in front of a car driven by a 16-year-old high school girl. In that moment, two young girl's lives were tragically altered forever. Heartbreak times two.

When Alaina was called to heaven two days later, it became crystal clear that she left a legacy behind. Not just a small glimmer, not a teenage flame, a full-blown torch for all to see.

This torch will be carried on by family and friends, and a community who came to know her through the testimony of her classmates. Dozens affirmed that her legacy is about the unwavering love and acceptance this young wisp of a girl lived and breathed.

As a community surrounded her and grieved heavily with the family, story after story was shared painting Alaina's beautiful character. She would sit with those who were isolated, reach out to those were were bullied and share her soul selflessly with those who needed a friend. One young classmate recounted how she was upset because someone called her fat, and Alaina told her she was just as she should be. Others shared how she made them feel special, even though they hardly knew her. I believe character is built not just by caring parents and a strong family unit, but also by a nurturing community.

Alaina's legacy was that of love and acceptance, and the small community of Flushing, Michigan played that legacy out as the family grieved this past week. This tight-knit community enveloped the family in love and care, just as the people in Wylie do when tragedy strikes one of our own. Amazingly, our communities are bonded in this way, just like siblings are forever bonded.

Last week, as I traveled to Flushing and experienced the spirit of a loving small-town, I looked to Wylie with renewed eyes and was reminded of why I love it here so much.