My wife and I had to make a visit to a funeral home this afternoon. It was a rough one. A former school mate of both of my kids fell off a 5 story building a few days ago. This is the 2nd of their school mates to have died (that I know of) since my sons left high school in '97 and '99.
A few years ago a girl, who was my older son's friend and classmate, was killed in an auto accident. The girl's parents attempted to get custody of their baby granddaughter. The father fought against them and lost. Before they could get the little girl back he killed both himself and the granddaughter. Nice story, huh?
This fellow we went for today was a teacher who was very popular with his students as well as a large number of friends, former school mates and of course, his family. The visitation began at 3PM. We arrived at around 3:30. The line was out the door. We waited for a good 45 minutes until we made our way to the small receiving line consisting of the young man's mother, father and wife.
The father seemed to be holding up reasonably well as did the wife. For the mother, though, it was apparent that this was more than she could handle. Her eyes were red and hollow, her face tear stained and pale. She appeared dazed, disbelieving. We spoke with them briefly, offered our condolences, lame as they may have been, stood before the casket a short while, observing the young man's obviously broken body, noting a small scratch just below his temple. We turned away and toured the room taking in the flowers and several photos recounting his life and work. We then wound our way back through those still waiting, nodding to a few whom we recognized, and finally out the door.
As parents of 2 boys of essentially the same age as this young man, I can't imagine what it is his parents are going through. One of our sons is in Germany, the other in New York City. We only get to see them a couple of times a year. We haven't been together with both of them for over 2 years. Yet we remain in constant touch with them via phone, email and occasional cards and letters.
We obviously have little control over either of their lives. My wife and I have a strong faith in them as reasonably mature adults. Yet, it is hard not to worry. It's what parents do, I guess. Neither of us, I think, are obsessive about their daily safety and welfare, but it's something that's always there, couched in the recesses of our minds. If we thought about it often, it would likely drive us to distraction.
As far as I know, the young man we saw today was a good person. He was married, had a good job and a loving family. Perhaps it's fortunate that he had no children. Nevertheless, I feel deeply for his wife, his parents, siblings, students and his friends. It's just too sad.