Published every Tuesday Phone/Fax (530) 336-6262 P. O. Box 224, Fall River Mills, CA 96028
A COMMUNITY MOURNS...
Burney, and the Intermountain Area, was stunned with the tragic death of Burney sixth grader Gage Sealander. We try and cope with something that seems unfathomable, so heartbreaking and seemingly unfair.
We all hurt for his family and close friends.
Being a small town, everyone knows everyone else... or at least knows somebody who knows somebody else, etc. When one family is hurting, we’re all hurting. Just to drive down main street past the flower and balloon memorial that sprung up overnight, we are reminded of a young life taken way too early, and our mourning continues.
Those of us who have been around the block a few decades have learned to live with tragedies like this. But for our kids who grew up with Gage it is something they’ve never had to deal with in their short lives. They are trying desperately to understand the enormity of what transpired.
Saturday, many of Burney’s youngsters gathered for the final day of YBL basketball. A banner honoring Gage was placed near the entrance to the gym, with youngsters taking the time to write a message to Gage. Young players had his name written on their faces... faces barely big enough to contain the letters. Yes, there was basketball played, fans cheering and kids running around... but it was all somewhat subdued.
Parents and grandparents sat in the stands as usual, but you can believe that there were a few more hugs, and a little more love in the air, and a hurt in their hearts as they watched their youngsters having fun.
Anyone who had the great opportunity to meet and know Gage will always remember a li’l man who had a spunky gleam in his eyes and shy smile. I first met Gage several years ago when he and his big brother Hunter would arrive where his mom and I worked. The two would sit quietly, with Hunter’s nose in a book and Gage tinkering with whatever he would find that was interesting to him. It is those visions I will always remember.
The memories are what we all have of our friends and loved one’s who have gone to play among the fluffy clouds of Heaven. The memories are what sustain us through life.
Those of us who are older understand and cherish our memories. It’s our younger generation of pre-teens that will have the biggest problem understanding it all. Us older folk will need to be there for these kids. These kids and classmates of Gage who will return from Spring Break next week to a classroom without his smiling face sitting among them.
The Intermountain Area has had their share of tragedy involving youngsters - with memorials along the highway at each end of Burney to remind us of those whose lives were cut way to short. The community has survived and continued, but with a little piece of our collective hearts ripped out.
On behalf of the entire community, I offer condolences to the extended Hovis family - Steph, Daryl, Jared, Bailey and Hunter - as well as the Sealander side of the family. You do not mourn alone.
A memorial and celebration of Gage’s life will be held this Friday at the
VFW Hall in Burney beginning at 4 o’clock.
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