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Various Other Articles

A Withered Branch Still Blooms
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By Carol Einarsson | 10/14/2016
Category: Various Other Articles
 

My thoughts are muddled right now because of a combination of exhaustion, cold medicine, and emotion. I learned earlier today about the tragic loss of someone I once met. But it was more than just a 20 second conversation with the person in line behind you at the grocery store. It was a race weekend, and she sat directly across from me in the Media Center at Kansas Speedway. It was her first time ever in a media center, her first race coverage. She was what anyone would conservatively call "giddy". She wasn't just bubbly like champagne, she was a bottle of champagne that had been well-shaken!  With an eager hand extended, she introduced herself to anyone who even inadvertently made eye contact. Name, media affiliation, a big smile, and too much information.

She was just overcome with the goodness of life, and her excitement at covering the race, meeting the drivers, and all that this is -- and it made me remember my first time here. I wasn't nearly as confident as she was. I was (and still am, really) a hermit that's sitting among the social people. I don't introduce myself to others unless they purposely approach. But she was open about her intent - she was here to network and meet people. She was here to get her brand out and to be remembered.

These are all the things I can think about her in retrospect, but at the time, my thoughts weren't so kind, I'm afraid. Her name was Amy. As Dave and I sat and discussed things at the RJO desks, side by side, she interjected at every opportunity. Whether we were discussing drivers or plans where to go take pictures, Amy jumped into our conversation. I don't know if it was my immediate silence at the moment she'd start speaking, or the look on my face, but she'd politely retract and apologize for interrupting. She'd even say she realized what she'd done, and she was sorry. Not five minutes later, though, there she was again, right in the middle of our conversation.

In her newness, she didn't seem to recognize the bigger names in NASCAR media, and she seemed to be a person with no personal boundaries. Maybe she was just skilled in a way I'm not at overcoming barriers that may stop most people. She didn't just interrupt us, she interrupted other reporters while they were working. Headphones on, focused, intent on their work, and like a firecracker set off next to any of them, BOOM! Here's Amy!  It was all I could do not to counsel her and tell her that she shouldn't be bothering people. But it wasn't my place. It wasn't my job. She's a stranger, after all, and she has to figure this out on her own.

Sunday morning before the May race, David Ragan was giving pace car rides, and Miss Amy went on about her efforts to get his teammate into the All Star Race on the fan vote. I'm sure David cared about that. I'm not sure she realized that David was also trying to get the fan vote. Yes, let me tell you how I'm working against you, Mr. Ragan. But he was gracious. I wondered if, some time later, she realized what she'd said, and to whom. Maybe she was horrified. Or maybe she just giggled it away.

Before we left Sunday evening, Amy had been out of the room. She came back, sat down three feet in front of me, and was visibly upset. Crying, she tried to press through whatever emotional event had just taken place. Had someone in the media center finally told her? Had someone complained? I considered asking her if she was okay, but I didn't. I didn't because I already knew her propensity to share beyond my comfort, and I really was just a stranger. I didn't want to intrude or add to her distress. So I left her to her private moments. We left that evening and I don't recall even saying goodbye.

So in the days leading up to our trip back to Kansas, I wondered if she'd be in the media center. And more selfishly, I wondered if she'd again be sitting right across from me. When we arrived, it was with relief that we spied the name on the adjoining desk, and it belonged to a print reporter from Minnesota. We were in the clear!

But then I curiously looked up to see if she was still writing for the website she was with six months ago. What I found was startling. I found that she died. And more distressing, all appearances are that she took her own life at just 41 years old. She laid out her wishes to have her ashes scattered on the pacific ocean, and for any donations to be made to the National Institute for Mental Health. The day she died, she changed her Facebook picture to one of her at the beach, and posted two stanzas of the Hamlet speech on her status, the one that begins, "To be or not to be...," and includes the prophetic line of what was to come just hours later for Amy, "For in that sleep of death what dreams may come."

Just four days prior to her death, she seemed filled with hope. She'd fulfilled a dream of traveling to Daytona, she met her favorite driver (Rusty Wallace) and had plans to return to Kansas this fall as well as going to the Texas race in November. Just four days prior, she had hope for life.

News of Amy's death shook me because I wondered what may have made her cry that Sunday back in May. Was it a domino that led to her death? Probably not. If I'd shown some level of interest in her pain, would her road have gone a different way? Unlikely. But I know I would have felt like a better person. I would have felt like the kind of person God wants me to be. Interested in others, helpful in their need, a shoulder to share the burden. All of those are traits I wish I had-- traits I could have if I tried. Traits I must try to absorb into my character.  We can't ever go back; regret serves no purpose. But learning from our own failings and growing to be a better person -- that's the only good that comes from tragedy.

Rest in peace, Amy.

 


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Comments:
sealevel
10/14/2016 9:15 pm (1)
10-4 Carol, thanks for the post, take care
and be smooth.
sealevel
KBTOYS
10/15/2016 2:50 am (2)
Wow lumped a lot of stuff into this. I can imagine this poor woman trying to run the gambit of the NASCAR press pool, a happy bunch...sarcasm! Especially when there are the old timers, a name you mentioned that is nothing but a PIA from my prospective of watching her in action. Pecking order, shunning...etc. For what? Interviewing? Really? Is it worth it? Anyways, not a comment in any way on this poor woman, God Bless.
a different Bill
10/15/2016 4:49 am (3)
On Reddit she was known as Beezwax and was a moderator of the NASCAR subreddit there. News of her death shocked us and she is sorely missed to this day.
I only hope she found some peace. R.I.P. Beez.

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