My teeth-cleaning appointment started with a statement and ended in sadness. "Dr. Panet-Raymond isn't here today," I was told. "Friday his daughter died in a skiing accident on Mt. Bachelor."
That hit me hard. I've known Marc Panet-Raymond for a long time. We've talked a lot about philosophy and many other subjects during the time my mouth wasn't wide open for dental work.
A story in the Oregonian, "Woman who died on Mt. Bachelor 'lifted everyone who was around her,' father says," tells what happened. But no story can capture the feelings of Panet-Raymond, his wife, and son on the day they got a call that Nicole Panet-Raymond was missing on the ski slopes.
When Nicole Panet-Raymond's family found out she was missing on Mt. Bachelor in Bend, they loaded their car with ski gear, helmet lights and shovels to join the search and rescue effort.
Searchers found the 19-year-old's body before her family arrived from Portland.
The University of Oregon sophomore from Portland was one of two people who died Friday on Mt. Bachelor after they separately fell into holes at the base of trees.
Nicole Panet-Raymond was an avid skier and adventurer who hoped one day to practice international law, her father said. She had a knack for striking up a conversation with anyone.
"There's just waves of pain and anguish that are unending. It comes and subsides and then it comes and crashes upon you again," Marc Panet-Raymond said Monday. "There's no pain like losing a child. I wouldn't wish it on anyone."
I was going to put there are no words in the title of this blog post. But since I was about to use a bunch of words, that seemed stupid. Still... there are no words.
No parent believes their child is going to die before they do. Life just isn't supposed to work that way. I can't imagine how I'd feel if my daughter died before me. Even less can I imagine how the Panet-Raymond family felt when they got to Mt. Bachelor and learned from a medical examiner that their daughter had died in a snowy tree well.
All day I've been thinking, "No matter what problems I have, they're nothing compared to losing a child." I look at Nicole Panet-Raymond's photo and imagine how she felt about her 19 year old life, how much she had to look forward to. The Oregonian story says:
She was studying at the University of Oregon's Robert D. Clark Honors College as an international studies and Spanish double major, according to Marc Panet-Raymond. He said she planned to study in Spain in the fall and had already been to Norway, Finland and other European countries, partly through friendships she'd maintained with foreign exchange students who had lived with their family.
I never met Nicole. But I know the quirky good humor of her father well. It must have been so very tough for him to speak with the Oregonian reporter so soon after the death of his daughter. I'm glad he did, even though there are no words...
After my teeth-cleaning, which was quieter than usual, because both of us were filled with sadness, I said, "Whether someone is religious or not, this just sucks. If there's a God, he's a malevolent S.O.B. to allow a 19 year old's life to be cut short like this. And if there's no God, which is my bet, this shows that life is filled with pain and suffering."
There's no meaning, no life lesson, that can come from the sudden death of Nicole Panet-Raymond. It's just pure sadness. Yes, today I've been filled with more of a sense of how precious every moment is, because none of us knows when our last moment will be.
But that sentiment is meaningless, really. Death can't be balanced with words or feelings. There's no compensation for a 19 year old life cut short by a fall into a tree well. There's just a wish that the Panet-Raymond family finds some solace within their sorrow.