Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Precious Time

Unbelievable! An entire week has passed since my last post. Needless to say, I have been busy. Between 12 upper-division, required for my degree, mandatory (and I might add fascinating) units and my job, there has been little time for much else.

What I have been doing is writing. And writing. And writing. And a lot of reading. My eyes sometimes feel like they will drop out of my head. Sleep comes irregularly and is in short supply. Free time? I try to spend it sleeping.

And… I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is always better to have too much to do than too little. The legendary, inspirational and incomparable Lucille Ball said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” She ought to know. She continues, “The more things you do, the more you can do.”

I agree. Although my “to do” list is in perpetual and, it seems, logarithmic expansion, there is always time for that “bonus” task; the unexpected is becoming so common it’s hardly a surprise anymore.

Breaking news is part of the deal and although that it happens is not surprising, the nature of what it is often is. And sometimes it hits just a little too close to home.

On Monday morning I’m trying to wrap up which stories will be finished for this week’s paper. My co-worker comes back from town saying “I’ve got your front-page story.” And did she.

Justin Stoddard, a high school junior who would have turned 17 next month, was found dead of an apparent overdose Sunday afternoon. He was drinking and took some pills, possibly methadone and/or sleeping pills according to police and other sources. There is more and the story of the getting, the writing and the running of the story is a story in itself, but it’s not particularly relevant right now.

(Here’s a link to Tuesday’s Auburn Journal – we scooped everyone, and today’s Colfax Record.)

What is relevant is that this kid’s 17th birthday would have been next month. My youngest son’s 17th birthday is next month – next week to be precise. By all accounts, Justin was a nice kid. He had his whole life ahead of him. He wasn't trying to kill himself, but he succeeded in doing just that.

Some stories are tougher than others and this one is difficult under any circumstances. It’s even more so for me…

It just hits a little too close to home.


Belizegial said...

A young life gone, no way to bring Justin back. The lesson to be learnt here - every child needs time and attention. Time invested in our kids is the most precious as the rewards come back to us a hundred fold. Parents, do you know where your kids are at this very moment and do you know what they are doing?

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about you today and you posted...hmmm, i guess I should think about you more often.

This is so tragic. I've lost a friend to a drug od and one to suicide - it doesn't matter HOW they die, they are gone. Although intentional suicide does carry even more pain than most deaths.

awareness said...

How sad Mike.

Living in the moment like all adolescents do. Living and experimenting without any thought of consequences, like we did at this age. We were lucky!
Ever since I became a parent, stories like these send shivers down my spine and make me want to put a protective bubble around my own kids. Not only is that not wouldn't allow them to learn.

Michael K. Althouse said...

enid ~ How true. This story is still unfolding and I'm afraid that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

barb ~ It would appear, although the evidence is not all in yet, that there is a new meth in town. Totally unrelated to methamphetamine in every way except that it destroys lives, methadone seems to be the new "in" drug, all the rage as it were. I just don't know, but then again, I never did.

muskie ~ Lucky is one way to put it. I know all too well and I too want to wrap my kids in a bubble. I know that I can only offer guidance and at some point must let them walk their own path. A scary proposition to be sure.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Yes, life does seem to get in the way, and keep us from posting as often as one would like (this is completely true with me now.)

It is indeed tragic to see a young life lost in such a horrible way. I remember when I was in high school and one of my classmates died from a herion over-dose. Of course this was the early 70s, and we were all shocked, and the drug culture was spinning out of control, and death by overdose, was relatively new.

I think as parents, we can do the best job possible, put our children in God's hands and hope for the best.

Good luck with your classes, Mike.

blair said...

I am very sorry to hear about Justin. Methadone seems to be taking many lives lately. I agree that giving kids attention and spending quality time with them is a good thing. I also realize that when both parents are working which is more so the case these days, it becomes hard to know where there are all of the time. Especially at age 17. My kids are still little 10 & 12. It scares me that they will grow up and they will have some really tough decisions to make. You can only educate them and love them and try to set a good example.

I had a friend who overdosed in highschool. I still remember his funeral. He was the captain of the football team. I think the whole school was there.

Anonymous said...

Crystal Meth and now Methadone are evil killers - and most kids know this, don't they? Why would you even go for that very first time knowing you may get hooked? My son swears to me he will never drink or do drugs - except for smoking pot. What can I say? If smoking pot keeps him off the other stuff I am not to unhappy about it.

Michael K. Althouse said...

bfc ~ I am experiencing the "other side of the coin" right now with my middle son. Letting go is often the hardest thing to do.

Blair ~ I thought we lost you! Welcome back. Should I put your link back up?

Here's an update: One of the memorials was last night. There were A LOT of kids there. Hopefully they can see beyond their grief and learn something.

Barb ~ Yes they are. And there is compelling evidence that pot is not. It's not always a gateway drug and certainly no more than alcohol is. So... I would prefer my kids don't drink or do any drugs, pot included. But if I had to choose, I'd be grateful that I could choose.

mckay said...

i know exactly what you mean when you relate one child's tragedy to the safety of your own. i felt the same way when i read the horrific tragedy in colorado this week. poor Emily Keyes and her family. she was just 16 years old - the same as my daughter. it could have happened anywhere, to anyone, but it shouldn't happen anywhere.

Helene said...

idk I see how it hits close to home (that middle school shooting in CO made me think about it happening to my children...) But I guess I look at it as a wake up call. A bit of a push to assess whether you can do more or better as a parent. (In my case I can do both!)

Thanks for the post... and the wake up call.=]

I actually have found living in Florida to be a huge wakeup call. I have Had to discuss uncomfortable topics with my kids as they are happening here with frequency vs in PA they werent. Is that bad.... idk the verdict is out. I do know that they are getting an education that they wouldnt have in PA... so knowledge is power and if I go with the logic... then it is good.


Michael K. Althouse said...

mck ~ Ya, that one kind of hit me too. How do you prevent something like that? There's nothing, absolutely nothing a parent can do to protect their child from every little freak. Accidents too.

kate ~ Yes, how is Florida so far? That's got to be quite a change. And I can only imagine what new precautions must be taken. idk, that whole Colorado thing makes me wonder in anywhere is really safe.

X said...

I get you about the tougher stories...and I don't think they ever get easier to cover, you just learn to cope with them better. And breaking news is my fave part of the job.... :)

Saur♥Kraut said...

Boy you're right. We DID post very similar topics at the same time. Strange coincidence.

Hope you're well, I sure understand busy! Been there/doing that/going slowly insane.

Miss you.

Michael K. Althouse said...

K, I can't even begin to tell you, but surely you must know...
Breath in-
Breath out-

Saur, I've been popping in and around all my favorite haunts, yours included. i just don't have time to respond unless something stikes a chord - your post did that day.

Kathleen Jennette said...

What is it up there!? When my family moved up to Grass Valley from Alameda in the late 80's we all discovered that the kids were all getting drugged out more than the cities! I think the towns need something more for kids to do. They keep disallowing places for them to go and have fun and now they are products of boredom. I have had friends pass on from overdoses (I was a teenager in the late 60's and early 70"s), but its more of an epidemic scale in the smaller towns. Sad. Very Sad.