I was headed to Los Angeles with a friend (and business partner) from Quincy). She was driving. As I was waiting for pick up my editor said if I could, to take a photo. There was an accident on the way down the canyon. I said yes, though I’m squeamish.
We were talking in the car and then we wound round a bend and there it was. The emergency vehicles. The CalTrans guy stopping us. I explained I was from the paper. Could we stop so I could take the photo? I’m not that kind of reporter. I don’t chase ambulances. But it was just that I was there–transiently.
I took the photo. I didn’t know whose car it was.
It was only the next morning in Los Angeles as I was checking my phone that I learned that possibly two of the sweetest mother daughter duos in Indian Valley were in the car. The mother (nearly my mother’s age) died. The daughter, (nearly my age), survived. Harrowing. Vehicle upside down filling with ice cold water.
It’s what mountain road fears are made of.
When you move to a small tight-knit community, you can be an outsider forever. Indeed, I’ve watched as kids and parent newcomers attend functions here and are ignored–not ridiculed, mind you–just ignored. It can make you feel invisible, small and alone–ready to move away.
Susan Orange and her daughter Josie Barr however never made anyone feel small, invisible or alone. Orange was perennially friendly, vivacious, alive. She made all feel included. She made people feel special. Important. If I was at a function feeling insecure, I always found her rolling up to me and saying hello. Welcomed. Her eyes lit up when she talked. A woman invested in her community. In her life. In her family. Likewise her beautiful daughter–cut nearly exact from the same cloth–is such a sweet woman. Full of life.
The canyon has yet again taken a sacrifice. And what a huge one it has taken.
I have no words really. Just my condolences and love. Rest in peace, Susan, sweet angel of the valley.