Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tragedy Strikes Yet Again

Bad news isn't wine. It doesn't improve with age.-Colin Powell

Godfather 3 was unmemorable for many reasons.  Those of us that loved the first two movies and can discuss and quote them religiously were highly disappointed.  However, there is one line when family patriarch Michal Corleone says"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." That would have been me this past Monday night.

I was busy doing nothing when I received a text from one of the other coaches.  One of the cheerleaders at College Park High School, where I teach and coach, had attempted suicide, had been taken by Life Flight to the Texas Medical Center, and was listed in critical condition.  I was warned by others at the school based upon my past.  The last thing they wanted me to walk in on Tuesday morning was news of another attempted suicide.

I could have called in sick, taken the day off, and no one would have blamed me.  Before school started, counselors and administrators began to look for me to make sure I was ok.  Did I need my classes covered?  Is there anything they could do for me?  I asked them to read the principal's announcement to my 2nd period class, but that was it.  The rest of the day, I wanted to be there for my students.  I wanted to talk to them, to let them know that it was okay to be mad, scared, confused, or any of the myriad of other emotions that were over taking them at that moment.  I needed to tell then that it was nobody's fault, that based on percentages, the young lady most likely suffered from some type of mental illness, and that they could openly talk, cry, or scream.  I talked to them about Peyton and my experiences.  I told them to ignore rumors from people, and not believe what they hear floating around in the hall.  I told them to be patient, as news would be forthcoming eventually, but that it takes time.  I asked them to pray if they were religious, and send positive thoughts and wishes if they weren't. I told them what I had been told while Peyton lay in his hospital bed, that the next 72 hours were crucial.  Finally I told them to hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.

I tried my best to find reliable sources that would give me any information to help me process the events.  In my own way, I needed details.  By no means am I an expert, but I have an unfortunate knowledge of a similar situation.  As I mentioned before,  I had learned about the 72 hour window, the damage to the brain when deprived of oxygen, how it dies from the top down, how the brain stem controls the most basic functions such as breathing, heartbeat, swallowing, and reaction to pain.  How doctors will test this part of the brain for reactions to stimuli, and the news they give when when those tests produce no results.  I also knew that news would be slow in coming, that caution would prevail, that  doctors would be neutral and try not to give hope if there was none.

Several days have passed  since I began this entry, and I am once again the bearer of bad news.  The young lady I spoke of, Cassidy Hess, passed away on Sunday, December 20, 2015.  I hop that she has found the peace that eluded her in life.

In fact, and I sit here and write this, I have received word that a 2015 graduate may have taken his life last night.  Tragedy strikes yet again.