I read the Plain Dealer online now since I don't subscribe to the paper anymore, and I saw a name I recognized as someone whose path I crossed this summer.
He also showed up to volunteer and help build a playground on West 89th. We shoveled mulch and nailed boards together, hung out and enjoyed the beautiful day and the sun when they ran out of work for us to do. I never saw him again after that and then saw the listing for a vigil his family was having because he got murdered.
And sure, he probably wasn't a totally innocent guy, and I had that feeling at the time as I watched him get stoned on the corner and noticed that he was pretty cryptic about his personal life, but none of us really are when it comes down to it. The idiot commenters on Cleveland.com celebrate that another "thug" is off the streets, but what if that was your brother or sister or neighbor or cousin? What if he left behind two kids?
It's not that people I know haven't passed away. I've lost friends to old age, cancer, natural causes, freak accidents, suicide (the other thing I can't completely get past), and whenever life ends early or unnecessarily, it truly saddens me. My friend's husband just came back from Iraq and I'm so glad he's ok, but I think of how many other thousand kids my age never made it home, and the families and cities there where things went from bad to worse for the people living there.
I guess I see things like this in the paper all the time and it doesn't always sink in. It's a name and an age and a street name, another faceless statistic for some group to compute and explain why we're in the top ten in the nation in poverty and violence and for the people in the suburbs to justify themselves in moving out of the big, bad, city. As if we didn't have our own problems in the burbs, you know?