A gorgeous morning is smelling the air of early spring when stepping out of the house to pick up the Times; seeing greenery returning to life and birds beginning to sing; being in no hurry to log on because nothing needs to get done before anyone else arrives at work, since it’s Sunday and no one is headed to work.
The reverie disappears with the news of another death along the Metra tracks. An hour later, as I write this, it’s impossible to say whether sadness or stress is the stronger feeling. Sadness seems so trite: what else does one say besides “Oh no!” and “How awful!”?
That was my feeling in January when hearing about Farid, and my heart sank every day when I saw the bunches of flowers piled up at the Ryan Place crossing. Will’s death last month stunned our community yet again and reminded us that our kids are as vulnerable as they are precious.
The stress is in not knowing who this latest person is and fearing that it’s another young person overwhelmed in a world in which he did not find sufficient support and help.
We’re all overwhelmed at times, whether by work or financial pressures, health or family issues. Most of us have weathered enough of these storms to be sturdy against the next one, and many of us have sure supports in friends, family, or professional counselors of the medical or clerical variety.
Our young people, and many not so young, are confronted and confounded by an
anxious world. Economic instability, a contentious political theater, violence that seems to escalate more than it ebbs—to whom does one turn? Who can be trusted among the adults who seem to be delivering a chaotic world to the next generation? Is there anyone who will take my stress seriously?
The who and the why remain unknown, but how much do they matter? No problem is a small one to the person unable to deal with it. But the suspicion that it will be dismissed as trivial will keep that person from sharing it—and then it just grows inside. As a parent, I’m guilty of feeling (if not actually saying) that an adolescent problem is no big deal and my kid should get over it.
Three tragedies in three months have changed my attitude in that department. My kid means the world to me, but in the past we kept our problems to ourselves.
Now, my adolescent’s problems are my problems as long as my kid trusts me enough to share them. “Can’t it wait, I’m working?” (or doing anything else) has disappeared from my lexicon.
I hope it never returns.
Deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and neighbors of
this young man.