life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, January 28, 2010

another car crash, another dead teenager

You pick up the newspaper, and there it is.  A story about a car accident, and a teenage victim is dead.  There are questions -- was the driver speeding?  were drugs or alcohol involved?  There are photos of the young man or woman, a sweet-faced child on the edge of adulthood.  there are the lamentaitons from friends and family:  "He was a good kid."  "She was too young to die."  There are grief counselors at his or her school to console classmates and friends.  A yearbook page is dedicated to a lost classmate.

You read about it every day.  It's almost mundane.

Until it happens to someone you know.

Then, every time you pick up a newspaper, it's like it's happening to you, to your children, all over again.

I see an article in the paper and I'm flashing back again.

I've blogged before about the worst Homecoming ever.  October 2006.  A day of celebration and school spirt at my daughters' school that became a day of tragedy and mourning.  Jen was a junior that year, Becca  a freshman, and the young man who died was a senior, a very popular young man, president of the student council,  with a bright future..  I didn't really know the boy, but my girls had known him since elementary school.   He lost control of his car and crashed into a tree.  The police think he may have been speeding, and in fact he had a reputation for driving too fast.

Have you ever noticed that teens create their own mourning rituals?    Although later many of them would participate in the more formal rituals of mourning -- 700 students atttended the funeral and several hundred paid a shiva call on the family -- the students felt a need to do something else, something on their own.

One of the perks of being a student council officer is that you get a reserved parking spot in the student lot, which you can decorate any way you want.  On Saturday night, and again on Sunday, many students gathered at the president's parking spot.  They lit candles, left momentos, they read prayers in Hebrew and in English.  The parking spot remained as a memorial until August 2009, when the school board had the entire lot repaved.  Becca was so upset, she thought the memorial should have remained -- at least until after she graduated.

The young man's death made an indelible impression on everyone at that school.

And yet...and many of those kids drive as though our local roads are a raceway.  As though they are indestructible, as though nothing bad could ever happen to them.  It's scary to watch them peel out of the school parking lot.

It makes you want to just lock your children in their rooms until they're 30.


Christina said...

Our community had two deaths within a month of each other. They say they learn, but no, they don't. The parents can only do so much - and boy did we all talk about those accidents and what, maybe, could parents have done to prevent them...and in one example there was perhaps an opportunity for learning for the adults..but can't be there every moment, overseeing every decision. You have to let them go, and it's the hardest thing to do. Ever.

songbird's crazy world said...

A driver's ed teacher from antoher school district brought his kids to our school while our kids were mourning in the parking lot. He wanted to make a point. maybe he did, maybe he didn't, kids do tend to thing "it won't happen to me."

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