Skip to main content

Looking Death In The Face (Again)

Didn't think such a post would have a sequel, huh? 

Well neither did I, but here we are. For the second time in under two weeks, it seems the topic of death - sudden death - has caused a lot of shakeup in my mind. I'd be lying if I didn't say my experience from Looking Death In The Face wasn't one that put me on edge over the pass few days. It rattled me. It forced me to do a lot of soul searching on how I prioritize my life. It put a lot of floating pieces in perspective.

As I slowly make adjustments and attempt to add habits in my life that are beneficial and most importantly, maximizes my time here on earth, I suddenly ran into a story and an experience today that once again caused a mental hurricane, whipping all of these thoughts on the delicacy of life from an understanding into a mess. 

As part of my job, I not only permit recreational fields, athletic competitions, film and photo shoots, but smaller permits such as picnics, gatherings, school celebrations, and any other type of small, simple, lower-end event you can imagine would take place in a city park.

Unlike any of the smaller permits I issue, today I had to actually attend and monitor a rare small permit request for a family looking to hold a vigil/remembrance in the park. The family planned on throwing the ashes of their son into the Hudson River, and I would have to be on-site not only to open the locked gate so they can have access to one of our community docks, but also to ensure that we offer life preservers (a legal issue, of course). 

Upon my arrival to the location, I met the father who I have spoken to many times on the phone. On this day, as per the norm with all of our conversations, he was very nice, and very upbeat. He was smiling, friendly, and even joked around with how large of a person I am. Of course, I always enjoy conversing with others who are friendly, but almost felt reserved and a bit odd that a mourning father was so upbeat. I made him aware of the life vest, meeting my legal commitment (he rejected as he would be going aboard an NYPD boat out into the river, and they would provide him with one), and told him to let me know when he needed me to open the fence.

I sat in my golf court about 100 feet away watching a memorial of teachers, former classmates, friends and family. An NYPD community affairs detective walked up and asked if I would be able to hold on to her belongings during the ceremony. I obliged. And so we began small talk that led into what this post is about. 

She informed me that she never attends personal functions of the families she deals with, but somehow, this one became personal. The boy who died, was a seventeen year-old senior at the top High School (and one of the best in the nation) here in New York City, Stuyvesant High School. He had a full ride to college as a bio-chemist and was an All-American athlete in fencing. An elite young man with a bright future. 

He was killed by a drunk driver.

Even worse, he was simply waiting at a crosswalk waiting for the light to change, to make make his way across. 

Boom. Just like that. A promising life taken, without even making a mistake. Just simply crossing the street. 

The detective informed me that the suspect was convicted on manslaughter and sentenced to ten years. 

However, as she put it, "big deal. There is no justice for this. Even if he died himself. A family that invested so much into a child who would've done great things ain't coming back."

Watching the scene of this now deceased boy's father throwing his ashes into the Hudson River and returning with a smile on his face was awe-inspiring in such an indescribable way. The way he, his wife, and their ten year old daughter stood and shook everyone's hand as they finished the ceremony was the epitome of class, you sort of simply had an idea they type of pedigree this promising boy had. They took in the moment. Smiling. Joyful. Peaceful.

Of course, I'm sure they are torn on the inside, but still...



So many questions, too indescribable, no answers. 

Just a whole lot of searching. 

And as I returned home from work, I finally made it to the gym after my experience last week (See: Looking Death In The Face). I stared down the treadmill and area where it all happened almost as if were replaying in front of me.  

He was right here where his body laid lifeless and it seemed we locked on each other for a moment. 

No one used that treadmill the entire time I was there. Not sure if it was out of remembrance, fear, or shear coincidence. 

And no, I have no idea what became of him. 

Yet still, in the past two weeks, I've seen a health nut with that lived a clean life physically collapse and was dead before my eyes (for a few moments), and now I witnessed the tossing of ashes, and the story of a young man academically and athletically gifted, who had his life ended all in a moment's notice. 


Just like that. 

I know exactly where I am going after I leave this earth. But I'd be a tremendous liar if I told you I have a grasp on  how precious and delicate life really is. 

I don't think anyone does. 

Recently Read Posts

CM Punk's Return - Perfect Timing for the Symbol of Anti-WWE

Looooooooook in my eyes, what do you see?! The lyrics to Cult of Personality, especially that first bar,  never felt so fitting for CM Punk as it did last night.  For the most part, everything that is CM Punk's return to wrestling last night at AEW Rampage ties directly into my latest thoughts on pro wrestling - the company is making it must-see destination television, an element desperately needed from pro wrestling.  Last night was incredible as again, it was another moment that made wrestling feel alive - with a wild and energetic pulse. It was one of the coolest moments in pro wrestling that you knew was coming, expected, anticipated, and it was everything and more. Again, MUST-SEE television. That's hard to do.  For me, it wasn't just Punk's return to pro wrestling, but the mere presence and voice of his inclusion in today's space. We know that Punk can deliver on the microphone - probably his best and most signature attribute. We also know that yes, he can

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 10/10/21

3 Up 1. Moderna Vaccine to Low Income Nations - In a world where the idea of "pandemic" now feels like a state of mind or the privilege of belief, Moderna has decided to aim its efforts in getting at least 1 billion doses to low-income countries the COVID vaccine. I'll save the "vaccine" chat for another time - but this is pretty awesome by Moderna. And oh yeah, highly needed.  2. Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi - Two absolute legends of the WNBA had some legacy-cementing moments this week. Parker lead her hometown Chicago Sky into the WNBA finals, and Taurasi, was named the GOAT of the WNBA by fans. Because well, she is. Congrats to both.  3. Netlfix's On My Block - For the second week in a row I'm putting a personal - and admittedly, biased - selection in the "Up" section. One of my favorite shows by Netflix, On My Block , released its fourth and final season, and yes, I binged it on my daily commute home. Gonna miss the crew from Freeridge.

Thoughts on MLB at Field of Dreams Game

"You'll REALLY like the film. It's a great baseball movie that touches on the father-son relationship - just...just a really good film."  Those were the encouraging words of my father-in-law in regards to the film, Field of Dreams, on the weekend prior to the MLB at Field of Dreams game in Iowa. There were among the few recommendations or positive reviews that I received as the fever pitch (no pun intended - and a terrible movie about the RedSox and Baseball - blah) built toward the game. I, a baseball fan, never saw the movie, or really, had little interest in it.  I finally watched it based on the nudges, excitable remarks, and surprisingly shocked reactions when I mentioned that I never saw the film. And of course, because it would be nice to have SOME context to why the game was special. For me, the film was. well,  it was just there. Good movie - great script for sure. I guess I just never got caught in the romanticizing of baseball that the film elicits for me.

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 10/17/21

3 Up 1. WNBA Finals - The WNBA playoffs are definitely going to be in the running for my Sporting Event of the Year Award. What a series! The Finals were capped off by an amazing game before a raucous crowd in Chicago. Kudos to everyone, especially the amazing story of Candace Parker returning home and winning a chip. Major props to Courtney Vandersloot.  2. New 2022 Quarters - Get ready for your money to diversify - well just a bit. But it's a start! Beginning in 2022, the US quarter coins will feature trailblazing American women such as civil rights activist; astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Wilma Mankiller, the Cherokee Nation's first principal woman chief; Adelina "Nina" Otero-Warren, a leader in New Mexico's suffrage movement; and Anna May Wong, the first Hollywood film star of Chinese American descent.