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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, May 23, 2016 4 years ago

Finding peace after the storm

Though tragic, the death of Robert Harris reminded us that good people can still be found.
by: Emily Blackwood News Editor

Our community faced a lot of storms last week. 

We made it through the three inches of rain, navigating the slippery roads and huddling inside on our couches until the sky cleared. But even if the sun is out today, Ormond Beach is still living under a dark cloud. 

The death of 18-year-old Robert Harris seemed to touch everyone in this small community. So much so, that the sanctuary of the largest church in town was nearly filled to the max for his memorial. Memories were shared, ukuleles were played and many, many tears — including some from those of us who didn't even know him — were shed. 

When tragedy hits, the overwhelming question is "Why?" It's nearly impossible to wrap your brain around the fact that someone whose life was just getting started, someone with all the potential in the world, is no longer here.

My own thoughts returned to a friend of mine. Not even a year after I graduated high school, Hunter Perez died during a car accident. He and group of friends were car surfing and driving recklessly through a back street in my hometown, when the driver lost control, and the car burst into flames. What's shocking about a death like that is how quickly it can happen. How easily it could have been you. 

Anyone can speculate about what they would have done differently, but we don't know why death comes when it comes. We can only control what we do in the aftermath. 

I did not know Robert Harris personally, but after covering his death and the celebration of his full life, I can say that I know a few things to be true. 

Robert Harris was a connecter, an inviter, a person who didn't leave anyone out. He made everyone feel at home. I base this assumption not only on his well-attended funeral, but by the large group of teens who took to the stage and said how, because of Robert, they all have friends they now call family. 

In the spirit of finding something good out of something so sad, I encourage us all to live a little more like Robert did. Be the kind of person who brings people together. Be the kind of person who opens their home to all. Be the kind of person who would make him proud. 

Though the clouds are gone, this storm is far from over. While you never fully recover from a death like this, I hope his friends and family will soon find peace.

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