A Tale of 3 Teens


It’s official! My son Joe has his license and a 2000 Toyota Celica he bought with money saved from slingin’ poultry at Chick-Fil-A. He’s already finessed solo drives back and forth to two weeks of band camp as well as a couple of store runs for momma and himself.

At parent-preview night, I got to watch him conduct the marching band from a ginormous podium at the high school football field. It’s an experience I can’t quite describe. Other parents around me commended me on how well he interacts with the band students … what a great leader he’s turning into, and well … (what’s probably most exciting to Joe) they complimented his stylish haircut.

Also this month, in honor of his 17th birthday, Joe and I went to the DCI (Drum Corps Int’l) regional championships in Allentown, where we got to see about 25 corps compete. The highlight for me was watching a young man perform with the Cavaliers on Saturday – someone I haven’t seen in 11 years, but who I had as a piano student back when I lived in Lansdale, PA. His mom and I got to reconnect over Facebook, and I learned he’s attending Berklee School of Music. Holy wow, Batman!

But as life often turns on the Power of Three, I found myself overcome just days later to learn that another young man I’d started in piano lessons had been tragically killed in a car accident. He was just 19 years old. According to the news, his car flipped after drifting off the berm while he was trying to steer back onto the road. Just that fast. Gone.

And I found myself spinning in a washing machine of emotions. Three boys. Three paths. A thousand hopes and dreams. Some fulfilled. Others shattered.

I have a distinct memory of a conversation I had with Joe’s father when our son was just a baby. We poured out a list of wishes for Joe, primarily filled with things we found lacking in ourselves. We wanted him to feel confident and make friends easily. We wanted him to feel attractive and rarely depressed. We wanted him to become a good citizen and a thoughtful caring person (because I was kinda uptight and well, um … bitchy … back in my school days).

I wonder what that list would look like from the parents of those other two fine young men. They were smart and delightful students from families who loved them and gave them every opportunity. Heaven knows for every child as lucky as these three boys, there are hundreds of thousands who live with far less. But ultimately, life wrests control from us as parents. We can only shape so much, mold so far, and then stand back and pray for favorable road conditions.

My heart bleeds this month for a family broken by tragedy. I keep looking for a glimmer of understanding, a ray of hope, or so much as a damned mile-marker that will tell me the distance to a brighter day. And then I think of you. And I think how glad I am to have been able to create this email to reach out to you and tell you how very much it means to have you in my life.

I write in gratitude today, with hope that we’ll live this life to the fullest – in connection with one another – and reach for our goals with courage that surpasses our fear. You have a message to share and a voice that deserves to be heard!

In love, Demi

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