Loss that Sparks Somber Reflections
Friday night’s mass killing at a theater in Colorado during a screening of the recently released “The Dark Knight Rises,” the latest in the Batman series, was shocking. Not unexpectedly, it has sparked debate over many a kitchen table, I’m sure, of the need for gun control, less violence in movies and a host of other topics. News that the gunman may have had ties to our area adds a layer of anxiety, bringing home the fact that this could have happened in our own neighborhood theater.
Also this week was the news that the family of Drew Ferraro, the CVHS student that committed suicide at the high school in February, filed a claim against the school district for $2 million. The details have not yet been released, but what is not in question is the pain the family is experiencing.
The family is walking a path that I pray I will never have to walk and experiencing a pain that I hope never to experience. We need to also remember the impact his very public death had on the many students that witnessed it. Unfortunately, the lawsuit will most likely halt any healing that the Ferraro family, and the community that reached out to them, has had.
On a more personal note, I recently learned that a kid that I went to school with – Craig Appel – committed suicide by stepping onto the train tracks in the San Fernando Valley.
I grew up in Sun Valley, attending Fernangeles Elementary, Byrd Jr. High and Poly Senior High schools. Back then, those schools were part of blue collar neighborhoods, not the working poor as stated on the Fernangeles website. The Appels lived near the elementary school and I actually went to school with Craig’s older brother Jeff who died a few years ago due to health issues. Craig was my sister’s age.
According to the publication “Off the Bench,” Craig was an avid Giants fan, often traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco to watch his beloved team play.
He was nicknamed the Rally Pumpkin, most likely due to his colorful orange outfits. He drove the team bus when the Giants visited Los Angeles and San Diego – a job he adored – in addition to driving a school bus, which was his main bread and butter.
Health problems and an inability to get the care he needed, coupled with debt, plunged him into despair that ended with him hurling himself at the Amtrak train.
A friend of Craig’s, Robert Fong, organized a fund on www.gofundme.com to pay for funeral expenses because his mom and sister didn’t have the money to give the Rally Pumpkin a funeral. Over $3,000 was raised and Craig was laid to rest last Sunday.
While applauding those that contributed, I wonder if there is a way to put a mechanism in place so people could contribute to each other’s well-being, a fund that could be established to help each other out during rough times. For example, you could give a shout-out if you couldn’t afford to pay your water bill or were having trouble making rent. Maybe someone wouldn’t mind footing the electric bill one month. I mean, look how quickly – and eagerly – people made donations to cover Craig’s funeral costs.
I know it’s probably a pipe dream. I’m not sure how one would go about creating a fund based on a network of friends, classmates and family that are willing to give with no expectation of return. The money would be given from the heart with the hope that their contribution would get someone past tough times to better times.
Despite being a pipe dream, I think it’s a better alternative than raising money to fund someone’s funeral.