Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No Moral, No Lesson, Just Awful

No moral, no lesson, just awful. Four teenagers driving home from a sporting event. Driving in the right-hand land, not texting or speeding. Two teenagers about to die the same way they lived: Doing the right thing. Then there’s a 22-year-old. By all accounts, a few drinks with friends (although we'll wait to see how few was a few), same way a million 22-year-olds did on Saturday night. Then he hit the Northway at 70-75MPH, weaving through traffic perhaps, but nothing we haven’t all done a thousand times. A mile north of the Twin Bridges, the ugly, awful twist of fate would occur at roughly 10:20PM, leaving two dead, two seriously injured, and innumerable lives annihilated.

I’m sure there are thousands of Plainsmen and/or Bison who would give Dennis Drue .47-cent justice if they could. I’m sure. There may be others who think the media’s role in this story sets a high standard when considering how future teenage deaths will be mourned. But whatever you think, anytime two 17-year-olds lose their lives before they even begin it, they deserve a moment in time, and the size of that moment is not the issue. Two huge school communities came together to mourn the loss of two of their comrades, and last night, the Shen Vigil, you saw a piece of what that process looks like. There's no right or wrong, no rationalizing what happened Saturday night. There’s no formula.

As I reflected on this story, I happened upon an ESPN article about a professional football player, named Jovan Belcher, who last weekend murdered his girlfriend, leaving said woman’s daughter orphaned, then drove his Bentley (that’s right, his Bentley) to the football stadium in Kansas City, and shot himself in the parking lot. Here was a man given the gift of life, somehow made it to the NFL, a dream come true times fifty, and does nothing with that except blow an innocent woman away, ruin a child’s life, and voluntarily end his.

I'm not emotionally invested in this man’s death or inspired by stories of his team playing hard to win one for him. I don’t want to see murals set up in his memory. Not when I read about the deaths of Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers, two young people who, by all accounts, were full of life and eager to maximize every earthly opportunity. My sadness is invested at home, with that. In this case, the student athletes are the role models, not the professional one.

One thing in life binds us all: We have no idea what the grand plan is, the big picture. We cannot predict fate or even say if it’s an actual thing. No human can. With that I think back to my own Saturday night, at D’Raymond’s with friends for dinner. At 10.10PM we left, heading towards home. At the last second, for some crazy reason, we decided to drive back to Clifton Park through Loudonville instead of the Northway. If we had taken the usual route, I-87, we would've been one mile north of the Twin Bridges at roughly 10.20PM. Maybe, if we didn’t decide to take that last-second left into Loudonville, it would’ve been us that got bumped by Dennis Drue. It’s a hollow take away, a powerless one.

For me, and my wife, and a million other Capital Region people, Saturday night was not our destiny, but it was for Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers. That’s all we know. And for Dennis Drue, his destiny was at the other end of this ugly, awful twist of fate, a "fate" he allowed to happen one could argue. His child (and one on the way) will now live with the burden of his mistake. I don’t know why any of this is true or what the big-picture reason behind it is. And I guess that’s what bothers me the most, for this is a story that has no moral, no lesson, it's just awful.

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Brian Huba

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