Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I started out writing a fairly happy post, and maybe I'll go back to it another time. My husband is currently out on a bidness trip, but he's not so far gone he doesn't get some news from home. He shared this one with me last night shortly after he told me he got to his destination safely.

A kid my husband taught in religious school umpteen years ago found a deserted lot in a ruined neighborhood here in New Orleans, took a gun, and shot himself this past weekend.

I cannot believe I just typed that sentence. I didn't expect this to hurt this much.

The fellow's family's house took on a lot of water from the levee breaches. Around this time last year, his dad committed suicide. And now this.

I hate, hate, to think about what the surviving family members are going through right now. If I'm this beat over it, they must be devastated.

Many years back, Dan embarked on his first year of teaching Judaism to grade schoolers every Sunday. It was a class that was considered to be full of hellraisers, from what I could gather from Dan's fellow teachers. Yeah, Dan had his difficulties with that class...but he also happened to connect with some of those kids.

One in particular was quite the character. Dan recognized something in him beyond the cutup exterior he would exhibit around his peers. This was around the time that Dan and I had begun dating pretty seriously, and Dan introduced this kid to me after a Shabbat service one Friday evening.

"Not bad," this twelve-year-old said to Dan. "Not bad at all."

Yep, one bright guy.

No, really. He did well with his bar mitzvah, learned to temper his clowning impulses a tad, and was doing pretty well with school and life, from what we could tell by checking in with him occasionally as we all aged. Time passes, though. In our shuffles up to NYC and back here, we lost touch with him...and maybe heard some stuff about his family from time to time; their synagogue participation had tapered off after their kids had graduated and moved on.

This isn't the way to get back in touch.

Words fail me some. I guess a NOLA blogging impulse would be to tie this in with some article somewhere about mental health services going down the toilet. About damaging storm effects that extend beyond the physical and cannot be easily quantified or even definitively identified. To do so right now, though, would be grabbing at thin air and trying to hold on.

I feel awful. Numb. I wanna go back in time, beyond that vacant lot, to when we still kept up with him, and give him our NYC address and phone or, at the very least, our e-mail addresses. I wanna mend whatever gossamer ropes got severed by time. I wanna take on more than I guess I actually can...

...but it's all because I feel as though I am getting squashed under the losses.

A potential world died this past Saturday.

How is it that this one can still be turning?


TravelingMermaid said...

I'm so sorry - every K related death is like double heartache.

Forget "the impulse to tie this in" with anything. I think allowing yourself to feel and grieve is preferable to rationalizing it away.
Sometimes I think bloggers "think" too much.

Maitri V-R said...

Sorry for your larger family's loss, Leigh. May the poor kid's soul be free to join his dad's now.

Sophmom said...

I'm so sorry, Leigh. I have lost two young men who were very close to me, just this way (both suicides, both with guns) and I will never make peace with it. I will never understand it. I can only assume that they found themselves in a place I cannot comprehend, with feelings of despair that I cannot imagine, no matter how deeply I think I've experienced despair (or how many times I've thought of ending it all). I can only work, after the anger and remorse, to forgive them for what they did and for the pain that they caused so many whom I love, and then forgive myself for not having saved them.

Y'all are in my thoughts and prayers. I am so sorry.

Leigh C. said...

I thank you all, with all my heart.