Recently moving across the state with four children seems to be taking its toll on me! Besides putting me behind schedule, last night our adventures ended us in the ER with my three-year old daughter. Being at the hospital with her reminded me of a chance encounter with a woman I had nearly three years ago. I was sitting in a waiting room at OHSU, waiting to hear how my husband’s surgery was going, holding my two month old daughter. A woman came up to me asking about my baby, which sparked our conversation. For the next hour, the stories of our children and life slowly unraveled.
She had asked how old my baby was and how many children I had. I told her about my four children at the time, including my oldest daughter, my angel. I then asked her about her children, in which she stated that a few months earlier; she had lost one of her sons.
We exchanged stories about our children as we waited to hear about our loved ones surgeries, making time pass like lighting, enjoying the conversation.
Instantly, we had the connection, one that gives you immediate comfort and safety knowing that someone else knows the depth of your pain, your sorrows, and your grief. This type of connection, no matter how it forms, makes friendships that last a lifetime.
This year, grief led Sarah Harnsongkram, along with a community of support, to create a marker to educate others, children and adults, about the dangers of sneaker waves along the Oregon coast. A two-year long journey finally came to fruition.
On Feb. 5, 2011, Jack Harnsongkram and Connor Ausland, high school students from Eugene, Oregon drowned when a nearly waist-high sneaker wave swept them off of a rock bridge, near Smelt Sands State Park, by Yachats, Oregon. Two years later, a Coastal Safety Marker was installed, giving warning to the public about the unseen dangers of the ocean.
The marker was strategically designed to incorporate the people and surroundings who were there on that terrible day. It was composed of basalt columns and “sitting stones,” one for each of the six young men who were present during the tragedy, in addition to a plaque that tells of the events of Feb. 5, 2011.
The Coastal Safety Marker was dedicated in March 2013, in memory of Jack Harnsonkram and Connor Ausland.
“As a result of this tragedy, parents and other community members formed a committee to create an educational coastal marker to heighten visitors’ awareness of the dangers along the coast through the story of Jack and Connor’s drowning,” according to the Coastal Safety Marker website.
The education is priceless as there is no way to grasp the enormous impact it will have in the future. Because of these young men and the strength of a grieving mother, countless lives will be impacted and many saved.
Check it out!