The fatal collision took me back to a place I didn't want to visit.
Two 18-year-old girls dead on Kapa'a Quarry Road. People I didn't know.
I looked at photographs of the mangled wreck and thought of my high school classmate, Peter. I was one of his pallbearers. He was 19.
It was an unexpected, head-on crash with memory. We all have them. It's what makes us human, the capacity to connect our lives.
But I didn't want that connection, not now. Fatherhood has turned me into a fearful conservative, and Firstborn has been talking about getting her driver's permit.
In a blink, I was struggling with a confusing tangle of emotion and old memories. And a riptide of worry swept me away.
My reaction felt irrational. After the Quarry Road accident, I gave Firstborn the newspaper story about it. I don't know if she read it, though.
And I made Second Child watch the TV news report. She complained the whole time.
They couldn't possibly understand the source of my fear. Even as I tried to lecture them about risk and consequence, I could tell they felt invincible.
When I was their age — when I was the same age as the girls who were killed — I felt that way.
Then my friend Peter drove his car into a utility pole on Keolu Drive. The impact tore the car in two, and I found myself in the front pew at his funeral.
Nothing I have ever seen was as painful to watch as the moment his mother began to wail, her arms across the casket.
I didn't understand the depth of her sorrow, not completely. Now I do. My children taught me.
After my girls were born, I grew older in a different way. The world suddenly seemed a more threatening place, less forgiving than I had thought.
I feared for them.
I imagined some tragedy snatching them away at any moment. For a time, I held their hands just as tightly as they held mine. I wanted to shield them from everything, still do.
But it's impossible to protect them from life. The world is too large, and they want so much of it. At some point, you have to let go, even if it's one hand at a time.
Before I got my driver's license, back when I was 17, I had to attend a class in which the students were shown a movie about terrible car wrecks, complete with decapitated victims and gore-splattered highways.
They made no impact on me. It was like being forced to watch news footage of a deadly collision.
The more powerful lesson came two years later, as I sat on a hard, wooden pew.
I could see Peter in the open casket, but what I recall more vividly are his mother's tears.
Reach Mike Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org.