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What Can We Say Except ‘I’ll Pray For You’?

I hadn’t planned to be where I was Sunday night. In fact, I wasn’t supposed to be there. And yet, everything happens for a reason. And sometimes it takes a very long time for us to find out the reason. Sometimes we never do. And I was where I was for reasons different than for the man who you are going to read about now. And yet, I believe I was there for some reason other than the one I thought I had gone for. Confused? Life is confusing and disturbing. Especially so on Sunday night.

 

Under normal circumstances, striking up a conversation in a public men’s room in the basement of a building would be considered odd, perhaps even frightening. And this was anything but a normal circumstance. And this was no ordinary basement. And no ordinary building.

 

It was the basement of St. Kilian R.C. Church in Farmingdale, during the vigil for the four teens killed in the horrific car crash early Saturday morning on Conklin Street, near Staples Street. 

 

This story is not about the crash. 

 

This is about the anguish of one man, 14-year-old Carly Lonnborg’s uncle. And the pain of a family on Mother’s Day.

 

“Carly,” he said, “was my sister’s only child. And it’s Mother’s Day.” 

 

I touched his arm and said, “I will pray for you and your sister and her family and for Carly.” 

 

He thanked me and told me that he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from the Farmingdale community. Mother’s Day night is supposed to be about celebrating family. Children and their mothers together.

 

When I shared the only words I could at this point, to “Keep the Faith, there is one you know...”

 

Carly’s uncle replied, “I know. I saw it upstairs.”

 

It isn’t the first time this community has gathered to support its own. Ten years ago, four teens also died in a horrific car crash. Conklin Street has a history of accidents. About four times a year, on average, there is a serious one on this heavily trafficked road, where too many drivers drive too fast, too often.

 

I was reminded in brutal fashion that none of us is promised tomorrow. For Carly’s family, along with the families of the other children who died early Saturday morning, Mother’s Day will never be the same.

 

Perhaps it is time for the state, county, town and village to work together to explore ways to make Conklin Street a safer road to travel.

 

Gerry Laytin is a career coach and lecturer at Hofstra University. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it