The death of any person is a true tragedy. And, this week, a beautiful young woman named Liz Durante was killed. I knew Liz when she was in middle/high school, and nothing made me happier when I read that she was also attending my beloved college alma mater. While Liz and I never worked closely together when she was in middle/high school, our paths crossed on the small campus both in the hallways and in organizations we both believed in and worked to sustain.
Once I became involved again in my college alma mater, I began to visit the College website frequently. And, each time I logged on, Liz's smiling face would greet me as one of the featured stories on the College's homepage. And, she deserved to be there. She wasn't just any student; Liz was a woman - at age 20 - who was changing the world. She had spent her "vacations" from college traveling to Uganda to give medical care to people in an orphanage community. I remember the first time I clicked on her photo slide show and was just beaming with pride for the type of woman she had grown to become. I often emailed her to let her know that she was an inspiration to me, that I was so proud to know her, and to let her know that she was doing God's work. But, Liz already knew all that.
This past Saturday, on her way to the airport to fly, once again, to Uganda to provide medical care for people there, Liz's van was struck by a drunk driver who was driving with no headlights down the wrong side of the highway. Liz - a resident in a dorm where students maintained a substance free lifestyle - was thrown from the van and left this life.
In all of this sadness and madness, it's hard to ignore the symbolism here. Liz was a passenger in a van heading to a place where she would give unselfishly of her heart. A man was driving down the wrong side of the road with no lights on. Liz believed in taking care of her body and in living a substance free lifestyle. The man who killed her was drunk. Liz's life had direction. This man had lost his.
With a very heavy heart, my thoughts and prayers go to her family, to her younger siblings, and to her many friends that she now watches over. May Liz's life be an inspiration for all of us to find the beauty in all of humanity. To put our own selfish needs aside and see through the lenses of others.
May angels lead you to the light, and may you continue to be the light to all of us. We will miss you, Liz.