Monday, April 7, 2014



“I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze...but I think maybe it’s both...maybe both happening at the same time.”

                                                                             ---Forrest Gump

Sometimes destiny turns on a single moment. The course of my life was set on an early summer day, in 1975. 

June 22, the day that my brother died. 

This is mostly a happy story. The tale of my life is filled with laughter and adventure, smiles and hope. But the story begins with a tragedy, when I was two years old. 

While riding his bicycle home from a friend’s house, on June 18, 1975, my brother, Scott, was chased by some older boys. Scott was only seven years old, and frightened. He rode, unaware, out into a busy street, and was struck by a car. Three days later my parents made the difficult decision to let him go, and he passed peacefully from this world to the next. 

An insurance settlement provided my parents with an eight thousand dollar stipend, and that money enabled them to do something they had thought was out of their financial grasp -- it allowed them to buy a house. They decided to build on a street called Woodchuck Way, in a new residential area of the southeastern suburb of Salt Lake City, called Sandy. In 1975, Woodchuck Way was pretty close to the end of the earth. The roads -- Highland Drive...Wasatch Boulevard -- literally ended in Sandy. They just turned into dirt paths. 

In November of 1975, the house at 2508 Woodchuck Way became my home. And that changed everything. Across the street lived a beautiful girl -- my oldest friend. Up and down the streets were new houses -- about every third one looked just like mine -- and these houses would soon fill up with kids my age, who would become my lifelong friends. Everything was a blank canvas. Streets unwalked by school children. Foothills filled with adventure, as yet unexplored. Memories in embryo. And up the street, at 2350 Woodchuck Way, lived the boy who would become the best friend I ever had. 

Aaron Ball. 

Because of Aaron, my life was filled with friendship, and adventure and wonder and laughter. Because of Aaron I did things I would never have done on my own. Because of Aaron, I survived the breakup of my parents’ marriage.  Because of Aaron, I moved to Cedar City when I was twenty one. Because of Aaron, I met my wife, and by extension have the family that I have. In a very real sense, I have no idea where destiny would have taken me, if I had never met Aaron Ball. 

And if my brother had not died, I don’t know that I ever would have met Aaron. We may have moved to Sandy, eventually. We may have come close, but not to that street, and not to that house, and not to those friends. The entire direction of my life may have been different, if Scott had not ridden out on to that dangerous road, on that early summer day, in 1975. 

It’s an interesting dichotomy. I can’t be thankful for the loss of my brother, but neither could I be more grateful for than I am, for a destiny that has led me to a life of love and friendship, that few have been lucky enough to understand. 

-- Christopher Thornblad

Farmington, Utah

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