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Monday, May 21, 2012

Crying A River

There will be enough tears shed tomorrow in a particular school district in the region that a new river could evolve. A very sad experience that played out over the last week ended in tragedy Thursday afternoon when the body of a young man who had been missing during a camp-out was discovered lifeless in the Hudson River. An autopsy revealed his death was attributed to asphyxia due to drowning resulting from a Grand Mal Seizure Disorder. He apparently suffered a seizure and fell into the water as he was searching for wood for the campfire.

I met the young man a dozen years ago when he enrolled in first grade at the elementary school I served as principal. A handful of years later he would receive a certificate from me at a ceremony marking the transition from the elementary school to the junior-senior high school. In between, he evidenced all of the enthusiasm, curiosity, and spirit of his classmates. He was well liked and readily accepted by his peers. He was scheduled to graduate from high school next month. He attended the senior class trip to Disney World in Florida just last month. He was on the threshold of his adult life.

It's a time in life meant for young men and women about to celebrate the conclusion of a shared thirteen year journey to rejoice in the known and project in the unknown. It's a time of optimism and excitement, when they prepare to invent their futures. Soon after the graduation speeches end, all in their own way speaking of promise and prospect, hope and tomorrows, they will embark on different paths diverging from common classrooms and years measured in 180 days calibrated by bells at regular intervals. Some will scatter as they continue their education in college campuses strewn across the map. Some will report to work assignments in various fields of employment. Some will enlist in different branches of the armed services. All of them will pledge to reunite and recall their pasts in a reunion sometime in the years ahead. No matter where they go, they would be someplace. But, no one expected any of them to be in a coffin before the pomp and circumstance played to announce their graduation procession.

My prayers and thoughts go out to his family. It will be a painfully emotional experience at the wake tomorrow afternoon.

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