It is hard to make sense of the deaths of young people like Ashley Stamp and Travis Taber.
Travis Taber died in October in an all-terrain vehicle accident in Moffat County. The 12-year-old was doing something he had done many times before on such outings with his family -- taking the four-wheeler to get wood for a fire. The four-wheeler apparently rolled over while he was riding it. Ashley died a week ago doing something she had done many times before as a member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club -- preparing for a ski race. During a practice run, she collided with a snowmobile assisting with the race.
We offer our hearts and prayers to the Taber and Stamp families, their friends and all those whose lives these impressive young people touched.
By all accounts, the two seventh-grade students were engaging teens, full of life.
"Dearest Ashley, we always received a lot from you," Jan Stamp, Ashley's grandmother, said at her funeral. "What a fun-filled, thrill-packed 13 years you had."
"For 12 years old, we think (Travis) had a really full life," Lori Taber, Travis' mom said shortly after her son died. "There are no bad memories at all."
No doubt these tragedies have hit the students at Steamboat Springs Middle School hard, particularly seventh-graders. The loss of two students from the same class in two months' time is a tremendous burden. By all accounts, the school district's crisis support team responded quickly to provide grief counseling and other support to students. The Winter Sports Club took similar steps after Ashley's death. The efforts, which obviously must be continued, are to be commended.
There are those who might use these deaths to open debates about the use of four-wheelers by teenagers or about the use of snowmobiles in ski racing. But such debates seem to offer little help in truly understanding why such tragic, tragic accidents occur.
Rather, we think the lessons to be learned from these tragedies are more about life than death. In their too brief time on earth, Ashley and Travis were young people who embraced life. They brought joy to the people around them. They made their families and their community proud. They are lives that were fulfilling in the time they had.
Life is precious, but in an instant, it can change forever. We can't prevent tragic accidents. They are, unfortunately, an inexplicable part of life.
What we can do is love our children. What we can do is never take for granted the simple joy of watching them grow and learn and change. What we can do is appreciate the time we have with them.
Ashley Stamp and Travis Taber were beautiful young people. Their lives were too short. May our memories of them be much longer.