I prayed it was a sick, twisted joke perpetuated on Facebook. I didn’t want the rumours to be true. I would have accepted crying all these tears for nothing, lying awake, feeling grief. If only it hadn’t been true.
My daughter’s friend and soccer teammate passed away on the weekend due to an alcohol related incident. The messages were sketchy at first – text messages were passed along among friends, leading to emails, then phone calls – and the details of what happened are still vague. It appears that ‘S’ was drinking at a party on the weekend and passed out, later choking on her own vomit.
When I heard the news I couldn’t help picturing S’s Mother’s face first. I can’t imagine what this has done to her…I don’t want to think about it too hard. To wear her shoes would be impossible at this point. She must feel destroyed.
We called S “Gumby” because, when she played soccer, she seemed to be able to contort her limbs in defiance of both physics and gravity. She could be four feet to the right of where the ball was going to land, but she would manage to stretch her body over to that space and beat her opponent to the play, all the while still running at full speed. She was the most amazing soccer player I’d ever seen, whether she was playing forward or defense or even goalie. Our Gumby was a force! All of this AND she was a great sideline player, cracking jokes and laughing and cheering on her teammates while enjoying a water break.
These teenagers of ours, they are so full of light. They are SO FULL OF LIGHT! Contrary to popular belief they are not the morose, slacker, stereotyped beings we see on TV and in movies. I don’t claim to know this about all teens, but of the ones that I do know? I see this in all of them. They are full of ambition. They are incredibly social. They are good. It’s just that at this age (16-17) teens are stuck between the dependence they still have on their parents and families and the need for independence that’s pulling them out into the “real world”. They are still learning and it’s that pull that sometimes causes them to make mistakes. We just have to hope that most of these mistakes they make will cause minimal damage, because the way this went down is not the way I ever wanted my kids to learn a lesson.
Please do me a favour and hug your teenagers today. Hug them and tell them you love them, even if they squirm and complain. Let them know. I have hugged my Ashley so much this week. We have talked and remembered and cried.
Please also remember that teens WILL drink. They just will. Whether they continue to drink a lot is up in the air, but most every one of them will try it. So, while you’re talking to them about alcohol, while you’re reminding them that you don’t want them to drink, tell them about other dangers besides drinking and driving or public recklessness. Remind them to always lookout for their friends at parties. Heck, how about looking out for all other humans who are drinking? Tell them that someone who is passed out is not sleeping. Loss of conciousness should always be taken seriously and paramedics should be called immediately. They’re going to try new things, but maybe we can help to keep them safe in the process.
Rest in peace Beautiful and Talented S.