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Life is Short and Precious

A tribute to Desha Sanders.


Desha, a 12 year old girl died at Hoover Middle School while playing basketball.

See the Buffalo News article

My daughter attended Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary School with Desha and she has been at our house a few times. Desha was a pleasant and well liked girl who was afraid of our overly rambunctious dalmatian. I have been comforting my own 12 year old girl for the last few days now until the early morning hours because of her intense sorrow over the loss of a friend that she now feels that she did not stay in close enough contact with because of an invisible line on a map that caused them to go to two different middle schools. I have no answers for my daughter, only maybes. I have run many of these maybes by my daughter with no definite positive out come. God, how do you make a positive out come from a 12 year olds sudden death? I have told her the old clichés like “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” And I do really believe that. I feel bad for all those from here on that will not have the opportunity to get to know this fine girl. I have also told my daughter that one message that she may take from this is that life is short and that we all need to make better efforts to stay in contact with those that we know and love, a short coming that we all suffer from. Desha did however die in a way that we all should be fortunate enough to, and that is doing something that we like. There is little better gift that we can receive from this inescapable reality of life.

Her story stirs memories of my own childhood although I was not quite as young. For about 30 years now I have along with my best friend been beating our selves up over the loss of a 15 year old neighborhood friend that more than hung out with us who were either graduated or about to graduate. He had an aunt that had a cottage in Zore Valley, NY. We were supposed to go with him and a few other friends for a weekend and we could not get off of work. We blame ourselves because we feel that if we were there that we might have prevented him from falling over a cliff. It was probably unlikely that we could have done anything to prevent this but one always wonders. Now it is my turn to try to help my daughter through this, the second child that she knew to die in her short life. The other was a sister of her friend taken by cancer a few years back.

Other clichés that come to mind that I attempted to console my daughter with is “Only the good die young.” Silly really but it is so hard to see your child suffer so, and I cannot imagine what Desha’s family is going through. My father predeceased his mother, and I felt more pain because of her suffering than I had for myself. It was a very gut wrenching surreal episode in my life.

We read my daughter “Footprints” and stayed up late watching funny movies. I told her that I do not have any good answers for her only that life is difficult at times. I told her that Desha was not old enough to have done some of the stupid things in life that many adults have done that would cause some others to feel indifferent about someone’s death. She will be remembered for all her goodness. I wish I could say the same about me. I cannot promise that I will not screw up again but for all those that I may have offended accidentally or on purpose, I am sorry in the name of Desha.

My granpa always said that if you die on Christmas (my granpa was not very religious so this was out of character for him, that there is no question you go straight to heaven). My granpa died in October and when we got to Pennsylvania there was an uncharacteristic snow, and my mother died believing that he had gone straight to heaven and that was his sign to us that everything was all OK. When Desha died although it is not uncharacteristic for snow this time of year in Buffalo, it started to snow that day and it has not stopped since. Because of her age and the investigation there have been no arrangements made yet but perhaps the snow is a sign, I just do not know. I did not think of this story until just now (about 3am 01/11) and in the morning I will have to remind my daughter of it.

I have known far too many children that have died, and this is something that always challenges my ebbing religious beliefs. I become very angry and yell to the sky not knowing if I am ever heard. I am sorry for that too but I am human and this is one of my great intolerances in life. This is one shortcoming that I do not believe that I will ever get over as long as I live.

I am sorry for this ramble but I am very angry and did not mean to go on about me but I am also angry because it is so difficult to watch my children suffer so, two of which have had health problems in the past year, and my youngest having to go through this tragedy yet one more time in her short life (she to had a bout with a 20 foot flight of stairs). My other two are temporarily fine but my oldest daughter has a mitral valve issue and as of yet an undiagnosed chest and breathing issue. My son had his front teeth knocked out and it looked like they were going to take but they are decaying from the inside out and he will need false teeth very shortly which is messing with his psyche because of his age.

Please in your own way pray for Desha’s family and friends including my daughter because there are still very turbulent days ahead of them and us.

GODSPEED Desha, my daughter misses you, as do we all.

Call someone you have not spoken to recently and say hi.

May you all find the strength and courage to cope with and difficulties you may encounter in your lives.

All the best,


The family does not have enough cash to pay for the expenses of a funeral. I know that if this tragedy were t o befall upon my family we would need assistance also.


Desha Sanders Fund
c/o Caitlin Misiura
328 Desmond Dr
Box 0107
Town of Tonawanda, NY 14150

My daughter will deliver the checks to the family in case you wish to enclose a personal message to the family.



12 Responses to “Life is Short and Precious”

  1. Desha Was a Very close friend of mine. she was a inspiration.

  2. Desha Was my Best Friend. her and her family lived two doors down from me we used to always play hide and seek and have dance offs outside our house desha will be gratly miss b not only me but everyone who was around her that she had influnced her smile carrys on for many miles and i will never forget her beautiful face i love you always R.I.P Smiley

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