‘Please, young people, live’: Hundreds gather to honor Western Slope teen in candlelight vigil
EAGLE — Hundreds gathered in Friday’s frigid cold to embrace the memory of Megan Lodge and embrace each other — to cry, to laugh a little — and to do it together.
Lodge was 17 years old when she died Wednesday evening in a single-car crash.
She was a master of oratory and the written word — a national qualifier in speech and debate — so when some in the crowd asked the ultimate rhetorical question — “Why?” — she might have told them there is no answer. There are physics, but physics answers “What?” not “Why?”
“Why?” is not a science question, at least not in this.
Lydia Loupe and Megan Lodge loved a lifetime during their friendship. Loupe’s speech was soaring and heroic, as you knew it would be from the three-time national speech qualifier. Yet, Loupe said it wasn’t enough.
“She deserves more than words on paper, but that’s the best we can do,” Loupe said, and then warmed the crowd standing in the snow with poignant and insightful memories.
“It’s our responsibility to stand up … take responsibility … ask all the questions you have … there is not enough time to not do those things,” Loupe said.
Kristen, Megan’s younger sister, shared with the crowd the things sisters share with each other.
Barb, Megan and Kristen’s mother, bravely took the microphone and thanked everyone for their support. Their loss has been “extreme,” she said, and then she could say no more.
It was enough.
Kathleen Uhnavy, Megan’s Eagle Valley High School speech team coach, spends countless hours with her team. They turned inward this week, toward each other, as people will who truly care about each other.
Words matter to people who use them well, as these speech team members do, and “authentic” was the word to which they kept circling back, Uhnavy said. Megan Lodge was authentic and original and consistently encouraged others to be the same, usually with the mantra and admonition, “Be real.”
One of her great gifts was her ability to love and be loved, Uhnavy said.
“She didn’t just tell you she loved you, she showed you,” Uhnavy said.
‘LIVE, PLEASE LIVE’
Everyone often acts like we have all the time in the world. But in Megan’s grieving family and every family, time is short. It has been said that no life is long enough.
Offers of support have poured into the Lodge family, most asking, “Is there anything we can do?”
“Live,” came the reply. “Live each day like the cliches say you should, like it’s your last day. One day you’ll be right.”
Finally, the hundreds who stood in the frigid cold to honor their young friend lit their candles, their only source of heat but not their only source of light. They have this life, the love they share and each other.
Loupe exhorted the crowd not to simply exist, but to live.
Please, young people, live.