We're big race fans in our house. It's something of a family tradition. My dad has been going to the Indy 500 since he was 14. My parents ended their honeymoon at the Indy 500. My husband and I spent our 10-year anniversary at the Daytona 500. We go to the Indy 500 and the two race weekends at Kansas Speedway every year. Rarely does a weekend go by where there's not at least one race on the TV in our house.
We've passed that love of racing down to our 8-year-old. She learned her numbers from watching race cars. (She always skipped 15 because there was no car with that number on it.) We've been taking her to races since she was 4. This child who can't sit still for more than five minutes can sit for three hours without moving if she's at a race. She loves the speed, the drivers and the competition.
That's why yesterday was tough. We were at a soccer tournament for my oldest when parents showed up and asked if we had watched the IndyCar race. There had been a horrific crash and when they left home for the game, Dan Wheldon -- the current Indy 500 champion -- had been airlifted to the hospital. A quick check of the news showed he had died.
We were stunned. It's easy to forget how dangerous auto racing really is, but every now and then the reality of it smacks you in the face. We quickly decided not to tell our 8-year-old until the soccer tournament was over. We didn't want to detract from my oldest's game.
When we got to the car, we told the girls what had happened. They both had lots of questions, few of which we could answer. My youngest was a bit stunned, as she's the biggest fan of the two.
Helping our kids deal with death is always difficult. All we can do is answer their questions the best way we know how.
Dan Wheldon's death brings home the reality of how it only takes a split second for things to change. He didn't climb into that race car yesterday morning thinking it would be the last time he kissed his wife and 2-year-old and 6-month-old boys. A slight bobble from a car in front of him caused a massive pile-up. It's not that different from what can happen on the highway.
The truth is, none of us are promised tomorrow. We don't know what will happen when we step out the door today, and we want to live a life that treasures each moment. Psalm 144:4 says "Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow."
Each moment we are given is precious. Our children will grow up and leave home. Friends and family may move away. People we know will die. When we treat each moment as if it matters, we are more likely to find the joy in the moment, we're more likely to tell someone we love them and we're more likely to choose the things that matter over the things that don't.
Don't miss the joy and the love because you're too busy looking at what's happening tomorrow. Hug your kids. Kiss your spouse. Call your parents. Make time for a friend.
Because life is fleeting, and we're not promised tomorrow. Make the most of today.