Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Goodbye Blue Sky

In light of the recent tragedy at Chardon High School, I feel a pain that is difficult to truly express.  As a parent it’s hard to fathom that something like that could happen at any time and place to my innocent child. As someone who spent a considerable amount of time in Chardon while growing up, it’s just plain shocking.

It’s no secret that ours is a crazy world.  Incidents and accidents happen every day that unexpectedly and permanently separate loved ones.  Even though these situations are not preventable, they are no less tragic.

When T.J. Lane approached a table of random students in his school cafeteria last week and opened fire, he unexpectedly changed the course of countless lives. And not just the lives of his victims and their families, either.  The effects of his actions will have repercussions for decades to come. What if one of those three kids who died was the person who was ultimately going to cure cancer? Or become President?  How will the parents and siblings of these teens be affected by their loss for the rest of their lives?  

As my Little Dude is only 2, he is pretty much with either me or my wife 99% of the time.  But we are looking into pre-schools for him and it’s a scary thought.  I can’t fathom him being away from both of us, even if it’s only for a few hours each day.  Because once he is out of sight, I won’t be able to protect him and that’s really the ultimate mission of parents. 

T.J. Lane was charged with aggravated murder and has already admitted shooting his classmates and will be tried as an adult, so he’ll likely be locked up for a long time if not the rest of his life.  But sadly at 17, his life is already over, which is a tragedy unto itself.   It makes me wonder if this tragedy could have been prevented.  Did his parents, teachers, siblings and friends (if he had them) really miss all the warning signs? How did he get a gun and bullets?  I’m sure this will all be revealed during the course of his trials, but we’ll probably never really know the real motivation.

So why did this story affect me more than others?  The news was especially shocking to me because whenever you hear about these situations it’s usually somewhere else far away. If you live in Florida, it’s in Idaho. If you’re in Wyoming, it’s in Virginia, etc. Yes, I live in California, but I grew up in Northeastern Ohio and spent many amazing summers going to camp in Chardon.

Chardon was always a sleepy town at the end of a long two-lane road, known primarily for its maple syrup.   It’s not far from Cleveland, but not around the corner either.  My memories of Chardon include a perfectly blue sky during the day time and a million stars at night.  It was a magical place and I am lucky to still have friends that I made there 25+ years ago.  Some that I talk to regularly, some only occasionally via Facebook. Regardless, they are part of a large support system that I’ve been very lucky to have. People I could talk to when problems arise, or when I’m feeling down.  It’s tragic that T.J. Lane didn’t have that and as a result Chardon will never be the same.  





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38 comments:

  1. This hit home for me as well. First, I am a teacher. I will say this is one of my greatest fears. Not test scores, not parents, but a truly lost child who harms others.
    Born and raised in Cleveland, I was shocked to hear Chardon in the news. Though I no longer live in Ohio, I still have a wealth of friends there. One friend has a child who was good friends, best friends it sounds like, with one of the deceased. In addition to worrying about the physical safety of my children...I don't want them harmed emotionally either. It truly is a tragedy and you nailed it when you said so many lives will be changed for multiple reasons.
    Not an easy post to write or read, but thanks for writing it.

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    1. I didn't realize that you were another Clevelander!
      I have many friends who are teachers, so I can understand the fear that you must sadly accept as part of the job. I appreciate your kind words. Thanks, Cap't.

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  2. The saddest thing is that as this kind of thing as become more "common" or at least not unheard of it doesn't make people as enraged, worried, upset, whatever. I'm completely terrified of the teenage years. seems like a jungle out there.

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    1. I agree, Nina. Here in LA there is a phenomenon of showing high speed police chases on TV, sometimes for hours on end. When I first moved here I thought it was cool, but over the years I've realized how sad it is that not only is that considered entertainment, but that those people have greater problems and are being exploited as a result.

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  3. Every time I hear of one of these things, it terrifies me. My kiddo is going into middle school next year, and I've been reflecting on the fact that during the school year, she spends more of her waking hours with people who are not me, and whom I do not supervise on any meaningful basis. It's a little bit of a kick in the guts.

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    1. Thanks, Beej. I know what you mean and my son is only getting ready for pre-school. Scary times.

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  4. I think that when we hear something like this on the news, we are sad but not affected unless it touches us in some way. There have been places in my life that I have loved almost as much as people and that is what I sense here. You are heartbroken for the families, but also for the loss of innocence and peace that existed in a place you loved. Nicely written. Erin

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    1. You hit the nail on the head, Erin. Chardon holds many great memories for me and my friends. It's a shame that that is now somewhat tarnished for no fault of my camp's.

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  5. Oh no - right in your own little town, of course it hits you harder. I feel afraid that we Americans are becoming somewhat desensitized to the school shootings - almost as if it is something we expect to happen to our children. And it is very, very sad that this 17 year old boy's life is over. Obviously he was deeply troubled. I always, always wonder about the parents in these situations - were they aware this child had mental problems and was struggling? Since he was at an alternative school maybe they did? Did they care? How the fuck does a boy of 17 get ahold of bullets and a gun? (That is a much larger societal problem but still - how does a parent/family member let a gun be accessible to a young troubled boy?) And on and on. Horrible. Just - horrible.
    On the letting your kid go to preschool front - baby steps my friend. I have found at every turn of parenthood - heading clearly into "the next phase of development" whether it be preschool or first grade or upcoming middle school - it's always scary because we have to let go and trust.

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    1. Ado, I think you and I are on the same exact page here.
      As for pre-school, it's sad that the tuition isn't the scariest part of the process.

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  6. I'm so, so sorry. This is just horrible. It's hard to think ahead and plan our kids' future when this happens. But, we should. Plan. Because your kid could be that awesome kid who turns into an incredible adult who cures cancer, becomes the President, and loves the people around him.

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    1. Heidi, Unfortunately for all the planning we hope to do you can never plan for something unexpected like this tragedy. Just have to try to prepare your kids for emergencies of all shapes and sizes, without making them afraid to leave the house.

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  7. Every single time something like this happens at a school I feel terrified for my kids. My son is going into 6th grade next year. The middle school is twice the size of his elementary school and I don't know most of the kids or the families. It truly is terrifying to send your kids to school these days.

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    1. All you can do is try to teach him right from wrong and hope he makes the best choices he can. Your parenting plays a key role in that, but unfortunately we can't go to school with them. Not that I'd want to do that again...

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  8. It pains me to hear about these mindless tragedies It makes me want to cotton wool my son, and that's not natural, nor should we as parents feel that need. It's just.... tragic.

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    1. All we can do is try to prevent it from happening in the future and learn from the past.

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  10. Oh, it's awful. My kids go to a super-safe Montessori school and I still miss them terribly during the school day and are so relieved to see their little faces in the afternoon. Good post.

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    1. I know what you mean and the Little Dude isn't even in school yet, Louise! Thanks for reading.

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  11. As a former HS teacher these tragic stories always hit close to home, you just never know and it's terrifying and sad and just awful :-(*)

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    1. I can't even fathom, Jamie. And this also hit (sorta) close to home for you literally, too.

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  12. Funny (yet not) but just today we passed the 'bad' high school and there were flowers and signs all over for a student who had passed away. His obituary said nothing about how. Every year a high schooler dies in this damned town, usually from alchol but sometimes from suicide or just a car accident, and then everyone puts one of those flipping memorial stickers on the back window. Pisses me off when it was alcohol related. Everytime I see these shootings I fear for my son. There are some disturbed children at his school and a couple don't like him. What if it's mine?


    ~The G is Silent

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    1. You just have to teach him to make the best choices possible. From what I've read on your blog, Kim, it sounds like you are already doing that. Just keep working on it...

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  13. these stories have always saddened me. so greatly. i understand how someone, a teen especially, can feel lonely and empty. i've been in dark places, too. but... to actually kill others?? it scares me and saddens me sooo much. :(

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    1. It is very scary, indeed. Just do the best you can with your kid and hope for the best.

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  14. Such a terrible, terrible thing to happen. I am so sorry for your pain. Things like this really rock a community. Clearly Chardon is a special place--I hope that everyone there is getting a lot of supprt. It is tragic on so many levels and terrifying for anyone who has school aged kids or works in education. Hell, it's scary for everyone. We all need to be reaching out to kids who are hurting or seem lost.

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    1. Thanks, Jen. It was quite a place way back when. After this story, I want to go back and visit again, as I haven't been there in probably 15 years.

      our last sentence says it all...

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  15. It's true that although these stories are hard to hear and awful, having it happen so close to a place that is dear to you makes it that much more 'real'
    Mom of a two year old, sister to a middle school teacher. I think about things like this more often than a person should.

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    1. You are so right. None of us should need to be concerned about things like this, but it seems that every few weeks or months it happens again and makes us want to hold our little ones tight.

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  16. I have for months been organizing a cyber-bullying forum which will take place tomorrow night. We knew in our district (Northern Ohio area) that this is a problem and becoming larger by the second. Little did our committee know during the planning stages, what would take place at Chardon High School. So sad (understatement). And one more reason why educating parents and communities on this important issue is so VERY important.

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    1. Kate, even though this occurred, your hard work will surely help others and is even more timely than expected. Thank you for your help in making your community stronger.

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  17. Ugh. How very, very sad. This is the sort of thing that makes me want to hold tight to my boys and never let them go. Beautifully written.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, Stacey. Thanks.

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  18. So sad. Sometimes life is so scary. I read a book (Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult - sometimes considered chick lit, but not really) that made me think hard about this kind of thing because it gave some perspective on both sides, not that there's ever a reason for anyone to do this sort of thing. I just think there should be so much more awareness all around. Teachers, parents, students, everyone.

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    1. Not familiar with that book, but I'll check it out.

      If nothing else, this will hopefully make people more aware so that it doesn't happen again in that community.

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  19. Thanks for posting the Pink Floyd video. It's been a long time since I listened to that.

    Bad things happen a lot, and usually to other people. When the parents of one of the boys shot came out to say the forgive the shooter, I thought: I don't think I could do that. But who knows, maybe I could. And what if it were reversed and my child were the aggressor. Horrid situation either way.

    Thank you for your thoughts on this.

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  20. What I find the most sad is how desensitized we, as a society, have become to these actions. My heart breaks for these families, the town and all who have been affected.

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