Saturday, February 17, 2007

What is Tragic, Really?

Oh that word has been thrown around and around so much it makes me dizzy. Sure, the sudden death of a certain celebrity is no cause for celebration. And since she spent so much time making lawyers and photographers and gossip-mongers rich, no sense in stopping now, just because she's no longer going to actually win anything by it. The wheels of justice will roll on and on and on and on ...

But is it truly tragic? When faced with tragedy closer to home, who among us is going to wonder, "but what about Anna?"

My community is facing one of those moments in time. You probably can guess: 2AM, a carload of teenagers and a utility pole. Of the 9 occupants in the car (an Infiniti, NOT a van, NOT an SUV) only one of them is home tonight, recovering from her injuries. All students at the same high school, (except the adult driver), they have endured 4 burials this week, and await news on at least one more still on life support. And they were all good kids.

In this area, this is the third such accident this year. But by overstuffing the car, they made sure it was the worst. Will their friends remember the lessons learned? Or will they forget?

While subbing in the high school last year, I made the acquaintance of a senior in a wheel chair. She was gracious enough to share her story with me. She actually felt it was her duty to share her story with everyone she met. She had also been in a car load of teens that got out of control. Yes, some of her friends had been drinking, she admitted. But some of them, the driver and herself included, had been stone cold sober. But it wasn't good enough. The silly drunk in the front seat grabbed the steering wheel and sent them all tumbling into a ditch. Two of her friends died that night, and she was left a paraplegic. So much for the designated driver theory.

Even in my own high school, back when I was a teenager, we had our share of tragic accidents. It's like a rite of passage: you survive the teen years by sheer luck. Then you get to relive it with your own children. And just hope and pray they listen to you.

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