We learn early in life that unforeseen tragedy is among the most difficult things we have to deal with, yet understanding that reality doesn't lessen the pain when tragedy strikes -- especially when it involves a high school senior, days away from graduation.
But just like that, another young soul is departed, leaving us with the dreadful question.
The community awoke to this question on Mother's Day last Sunday when news began to spread that Baylor School student Shipley Buckner had died in a car crash that morning on Hixson Pike.
"She was so nice," said one friend, who attends another Chattanooga area school. "It's not fair."
The phone call about a tragic accident in the middle of the night is one every parent fears as the single worst nightmare.
Last year I was talking with a friend from another town whose daughter was killed in a car wreck just before her high school graduation, where she was to be honored as the valedictorian. He acknowledged the pain likely never would fully cease.
"I learned we can't pick and choose who stays, who goes, or when," he said. "What matters is who they were, who they are."
He eventually began to count the blessings of her life rather than dwell on the tragedy.
Similarly, the Baylor student was obviously a blessing to many, as evidenced by the crowd that showed up at a vigil held at her school in her honor the very night of the day she died.
That's not the way it was supposed to be --tears of sadness in mourning flowing instead of tears of joy for graduation. That's the thing about tragedy: When it strikes, it always brings the deepest pain and the difficult question.