My family was also present at last night's visitation of another teenager who drown during last week's flood. The scene however this time was different. There were no long lines at the funeral home or messages on the back of cars. Just one lone message posted on the sign outside where he worked. The presence of most of his graduating class consisted of a flower arrangement. The grieving process at school was a bulletin that each teacher read at the beginning of class. Counselors were available to speak with students but only a handful even stopped in the halls to talk about it. The only memories for most was how he stayed to himself or for some like my daughter who only knew him as the guy who was picked on or ignored. Students that knew him from the special education class took his passing hard as did his teachers. They knew him best and knew how hard he had worked to overcome his academic struggles and in just a few weeks he would be a member of the graduating class of 2008. He had proven that difficulties can be overcome and even college is within reach. He would have attended college in the fall.
Both of these young men's lives tragically ended too soon. But what bothers me is the value we put on human life. The second young man wasn't popular, he wasn't outgoing and and while most everyone knew him, very few knew him well, so therefore few found it important enough to take the time to pay their respects to his family or to him as a fellow student. Liked or not liked, popular or unpopular he was still part of a team. A team that viewed him not worthy of their time neither during his life or his death.
For those students that were there, "thank you"for being there for his family and for acknowledging him as a fellow-student. You set an example of kindness, compassion, respect and responsibility that may influence others in the future to do the same. To your parents I say thank you, for teaching your children the value of life and how precious it is no matter how great or small it may appear to others.