Yesterday's headline in the Virginian-Pilot read, "Truck hits, kills worker at terminal in Norfolk." On the surface it looked like just another report on the randomly unlucky who fill the pages with their near-anonymous tragedies on a daily basis.
But it isn't. In fact none of them are, for every person, every loss, touches somebody in a way that will transform lives forever. I realize this, because the unnamed victim in this story was Drew Richardson, a young man I grew up with hunting. He and his father shared my room at the United Hunt Club in Southampton County, Va., where we hunted for many years. I got the tragic news, relayed to me by phone by my 7-year-old, while I was sitting on the tarmac in a plane in Minneapolis, heading home after an unsuccessful deer hunt up North.
The news struck me with extreme sadness, the type reserved for people who still should have had a lot of life ahead of them. Drew was one of these people. He was only 29, married and a father of two small children and I knew his immediate and extended families were reeling from the crushing news. I can't imagine what they are going through.
One of my fondest memories of Drew took place about nine or 10 years ago this month. It was the opening week of deer season and on a bright, sunny day, the few of us who had taken the whole week off from work or school decided to do a few short drives in a grown-over clearcut. I was working my way through a tangle of brush when a deer exploded from the cover ahead of me. I couldn't tell exactly what it was, but I shouted to Drew that a deer was headed his way. About that time, several shots from his shotgun rang out. I was hopeful.