Saturday, November 04, 2006

Here The Clocks Tick Like A Bomb

After the basketball game, which you win by 15 (2-2, 0-1), but leave feeling unhappy because of sloppy play and the non-development at the 2-guard position, you walk through the parking lot and a colleague asks if you've heard, if you're going to hospital.

Because N. and his dad were stabbed.

Stabbed is an incomplete word of course, because this high school sophomore who struggled so mightily and tried so hard in your class had his chest ripped up, his liver lacerated, a wound that required 25 metal staples to close, and wiped the kid's short-term memory clean in a flurry of repression, laying there in a hospital bed at the end of the hall, too weak to grip your hand, or the hand of the two other teachers who have come, struggling to speak against the tube down his throat.

He says, "Strange things keep happening to me."

He says, "You don't know how much it means to me that you're here."

He says, "I can't remember what happened."

He says, "My dad didn't make it."

And you nod closed-throat at this, because you know that he's lost his second parent now, something the family was waiting to tell him before a doctor blurted it, without preamble or responsibility. He asks you about the wrestling team, is really upset about his chipped tooth, mentions it's a good reason for him to become a dentist. He tells you what events he'll be running on the track team this Spring, and describes how the pain sweeps into him. No one dare write a book about resiliency until they come look into this young man's eyes.

What stays with you all night, and the next morning as you drive in for Saturday Academy isn't the staples, or the choked swallowing, or the look in his eye. It's his (ex)girlfriend, J., who is so clearly in charge, staying there nights, telling you the story in short declaratives, deciding who gets in to see him and for how long, it's this girl, who played on your basketball team for a year without saying more than a few words the whole time, it's the sight of her stoic calm breaking as his tio lays a hand on his forehead and speaks words of comfort, encouragement, and hope. It's the sight of her turning away, the straight line of the shoulders breaking, and her hands going to her face. It's the sight of that, and the somehow more terrible control she exerts, turning back, brushing the hair of her forehead, smiling at you and saying good night.


Blogger Amerloc said...

Too soon adult, and yet they do it with a grace and a strength that reminds me what grace and strength are.

I'll put away my second-hand tears at your words, and instead cheer their courage, and pray for their futures.


3:21 PM  
Blogger rabi said...

oh, how awful. things like that can make you feel so helpless. I hope the kids continue to handle it as well as they have so far.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I complained aobut my week. What these kids go through is beyond belief! I hope the assailant(s) are caught and punished, I pray this young man will recover and become a good person all the days of his life.

You are making a difference, please continue to do so.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Polski3 said...

I wish you the best of luck. I know what you are doing is appreciated. And I know that what you are doing is HARD. Very Hard. Talk to someone about this.....

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Jeri said...

Oh, my word. I'm with Onyx, but I think Polski is right, too. Have you got someone -- I mean besides all of us -- that you can talk with about this?

Our prayers are with the young man and his remarkable friend. God bless her!

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Great writing, as always. In a few sentences and paragraphs you convey a range of emotions. What a testament to J.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Lsquared said...

I think I've read this post 6 times, and I still don't know what to say. A tragedy like this really puts the whole world into a different perspective. I really hope N. and his family and his ex-girlfriend all find their way through to a life where this doesn't repeat itself.

It's hard to see so much need, and not be able to fill it.

12:04 PM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

God bless all of you. Really. What can one say when confronted with so much pain and injustice?

We don't need to worry about so many insignificant things when we reflect upon this tragedy, which you wrote about so movingly and beautifully.

7:13 AM  
Blogger TMAO said...

N. is out of the hospital, staying with family, doing okay. In some ways, the hard part is over, the high-attention days of trauma, and now he has to get back to the business of living, and doing well, and being good. That seems harder, somehow.

As for those who voiced concern for me, it's appreciated, but I'm fine, and certainly not the one anybody should be worried about.

11:04 AM  

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