I was born in Minnesota and lived only blocks away from the bridge that collapsed. My sister Cindy sent me an email the minute she heard and back and forth we went. Worried. Sad. Grieving.

All we wanted was more information. I think that is true during any tragedy. We want answers. Why this bridge? Who knew? Who was on it? What time of day? What was the weather like? In some ways I believe we think that the more information we have the more we can make sense out of a senseless tragedy. Especially when we are miles away from our beloved home state.

I mourn those lives lost. I grieve alongside those who don’t know where their loved ones are. I am in pain for the ones who are lost but no one knows about them because no one has reported them. I am saddened that this tragedy could have been prevented but I think preventability is what makes it a tragedy.

A loved one dying of lung cancer because they chose to smoke for twenty years. A spouse having a heart attack because they refused to exercise and lower their cholestrol. A friends daughter contracting AIDS because she was embarrassed to ask her lover to wear a condom. The bridge was labeled ‘structurally deficient’ in 1990 yet that put its repairs scheduled for the year 2010. All preventable. All tragedies.

The broad label was information but not the information that was needed. I vote for a more accurate and specific rating system so that the over 75000 bridges given the same label in the US can be repaired based on the most critical needs. Lumping them all together with a generic label does not move people to action. It just makes people complacent.

Like why bother giving up smoking since no one in the family has died of cancer. Or the spouse that had a heart attack could be heard saying they had no time to exercise and besides, they increased their green intake. And the young girl who contracted AIDS never believed it would happen to her. And the folks that worked for the federal government who gave the bridge that label never thought it wouldn’t collapse during rush hour. And neither did I.

We didn’t have the technology then to inspect it as we could today. I will give the federal government that. Yet, we do have the technology now. Why do people always have to die before someone has the courage to blow the whistle?

In the end, it all comes down to love. Loving who we are with when we are with them and letting those that we are separated from know that we are loving them through the miles. And most importantly, loving ourselves enough to do what we can to prevent what we can prevent. Because we can give up smoking, lower our cholesterol, start exercising and make sure condoms are a must and yes, we have little control over a bridge falling down.

Love. Love. Love. Love yourself. Love your family. Love your friends. Love your community. Love your state. Love your country. Love the world. All the world. Love every inch of it. When we love that much, the thought of a bridge collapsing would be enough to get the entire nation in action because we would never let our brother or sister be in harms way…ever. No matter how much it costs. No matter what it takes. No matter what.

Love. Fearlessly. Perhaps that is the one greatest thing we have control of….

Sending love through the miles to my sisters and brothers in Minnesota. Sending healing to all those who are in pain and suffering. Sending light to surround those who are still missing. May they be found. Alive.

The Foundation of It all

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By Rhonda Britten

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