By Terra Avilla
The proximity in which we all cohabitate can sometimes bring frustration with one another, but it can also bring empathy, and support. Even from people we don’t know that well.
As I have been saying, in Lassen County, we are all connected in this web of a community.
Let me introduce you to the Waltmans. Cody and her husband Thad, have created a beautiful, little ranching family.
I became familiar with Cody in 2021 as we were pregnant together. Both with baby girls. In May of 2021, I delivered my beautiful third daughter. She was healthy and chubby. Cody’s beautiful daughter, Poppy Jean was born sleeping on July 4, 2001.
I will never forget seeing Cody post on social media about the loss of her daughter. The loss of the little sister to her kids. I bawled. I bawled and I held Mavery. Crying over this woman who I had seen a handful of times.
We went to the same doctors. We went to the same hospital. Our stories paralleled each other and yet mine had such a different outcome. I wept for her. You see, living here connected me to her and her to me, without our consent, without us really knowing.
We became Facebook friends, and I began silently rooting for the Waltman family. I watched as Cody shared pictures of her beautiful children. She has two older sons and a beautiful older daughter. I learned that she and her husband are involved parents. I often see them out and about town, mostly at their children’s extracurricular activities.
I am connected to them through the very fibers of our community.
Then came her announcement that she was pregnant again. This time with a baby boy. A beautiful little nugget that had his own thoughts on when his due date should be, and Little Rooster came very early, but was already a little fighter. (August 17th), but he and Cody were taken far away from home to UCSF in an effort to get Rooster the best possibly care.
I would anxiously await her posts tracking his progress. Posts – smiling as she posted updates about getting to take him outside! A picture with her children smiling at their little brother. It gave me so much happiness.
Until the day it didn’t. Until the day, when I learned that Rooster had gone to be with his sister, Poppy in heaven (November 16th) and my heart was decimated. And they aren’t even my family.
Within hours, food meal trains were organized (again I can’t speak enough of the hearts in this community.) I volunteered to bring the family dinner. I met Cody outside and this sweet, tough woman and I hugged. There were no words. There are still no words.
I apologized for her loss. I deal with parents all day long who abuse their kids, ignore their kids, and here was a family willing to fight to the moon for their son, that God just had other plans for. I tried not to cry.
Cody was so kind and thanked me profusely for the dinner. It was the least I could do.
I told her I was thinking about her. And her family. Every day. You see, if we lived in a big city, stories like this one wouldn’t affect me as much as they do. Cody and her family are my family and if you are reading this – they are your family too, by proxy. By all the connections that we have with each other. They are a part of your Lassen County Family.
Our community melts together into one big pot, and as beautiful as it is to share triumphs there is a different type of beauty in sharing sorrow. I want the Waltman’s to know they are not alone. They have a whole community behind them, even people who don’t know them.
And while sometimes it may grow tiresome to be in such a close-knit community when something tragic happens, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s also our strength.
Other families who may or may not know the Waltmans personally are bringing her food, are offering to help offset the extensive medical bills for Rooster and now the cost for his funeral. People that never met them are going to be praying for her and her family. That is love. That is our community. That is one of the reasons I love where we live. Through the heartbreak and all.