To the point week of 9-2-10


IT MAKES NO SENSE and as much as we try and make sense of it, we just can’t.

When Amber Turner lost her life on Sunday night at the hands of her ex-boyfriend in a Florida hotel room, a stunned Switzerland County community began to reach for answers. In individual and community shock, we all have run scenarios through our minds that would lead us to a different outcome and different circumstances.

But, in the end, there is nothing that makes sense in this situation, and all of the “what ifs” in life don’t change what happened.

So, as we all gather to mourn, there is a question to be asked: Will Amber Turner be defined by how she died, or how she lived?

It’s a central question, and – in the end of all of this – it is left to us. Her legacy becomes our responsibility.

As for me, I choose to celebrate her and her life and her spirit, and I hope to use the blessing of having known her to make my relationships with others in the future a little better and a little brighter.

I coached Amber in little league softball, and even at an early age I could see the sense of humor that we all know and love. As a young girl she seemed to understand that the ultimate purpose of what we were doing was to have some fun. It didn’t have to be some titanic struggle for first place and championships with Amber, and although that frustrated me at times as her coach, I came to love her and enjoy being around her.

When Amber went to high school, she was a part of our Big Stuf Camp trip each summer. As one of the organizers of the trip, I have to admit that I would arrange bus assignments so that I was on Amber’s bus for the 15 hour trip down and the return trip to Switzerland County.

I did it because she was just one of the most naturally funny people that I’ve ever been around in my life. A true joy to everyone whom she came into contact with.

After she graduated, I kept tabs on Amber through her brother, Codey; and, like many others, I was excited for her as she sat out on her journey to Florida to live and attend school.

Our loss here in Switzerland County was truly Florida’s gain, and you know that she was the same Amber once she reached Florida, because of the outpouring of love and support we have seen in the past few days.

All of that brings me to Sunday afternoon, when, while trying to wrap up festival activities, I began to hear from people that Amber was missing and that something was terribly wrong.

Prayers were lifted up individually and collectively, but even in the darkest parts of our minds, we all somehow knew that Amber would show up and have some story to tell.

But she didn’t.

If there is a lesson that parents seek to gently share with their children, it is that the world we live in is sometimes a scary and horrible place. We try and teach caution without imparting fear, and we pray for the safety of our children in all aspects of their lives.

No matter how old you get, you’re never too old for your parents to stop worrying about you.

But, as I said earlier, there is a choice to be made, and I for one, choose to work to replace my grief with fonder, funnier memories of Amber.

As we move forward as her friends, family, and members of her hometown community, we can either allow the circumstances of her passing to be her legacy; or we can choose to instead work daily so that others will know the Amber that we all loved.

I will not allow some lunatic the final victory of dictating Amber’s memory to me. Instead I choose to remember that wonderfully frustrating little girl on the softball field; that hilarious high schooler in the middle of the night telling wonderful stories as we rolled through Alabama; of the warm and loving daughter, sister, and friend that she was.

If you knew Amber Turner, you are a better person today because of it, I know I am.

So, in the end it’s all up to us. As a community we can strive to take the things that we learned about life from this wonderful young lady and we can move forward; or we can look back and try and make sense of a senseless tragedy.

I, for one, will take Amber’s life and lessons and move forward.