We Are All Connected
It was around 12:45 p.m. last Friday when I returned to my office from a physical therapy session on my bum knee. The familiar ping from my phone alerted me that a new text message was waiting. It was from my son at college down near San Diego asking me if I knew what had just happened at Crescenta Valley High. I had no idea.
At almost the exact same moment I was reading my son’s message, my sister called on our house phone (yes, we still have one of those and no, it isn’t a pay phone) asking if I had heard anything from the staff at the CV Weekly newspaper about the big breaking news. My sister has a son who’s a senior at CVHS who had been texting her with what he knew was happening. I think she – like many readers, as well – assumed that because I write a column for the paper each week I have the inside scoop on any buzz going on in the newsroom on any given day. Not hardly.
As my sister relayed the news about a possible suicide at CVHS, I suddenly noticed the drone of multiple helicopters hovering somewhere high above the 210 freeway. That sound is always the first indicator that something big is happening up here in our normally calm and quiet valley.
Sure enough, as the minutes ticked by last Friday afternoon, we all quickly learned more about the tragic suicide of the sophomore student. As sketchy and often wrong as the rapidly passed-along details of the event may have been, it reminded me again that we are all connected to each other’s lives like never before in the history of humanity.
With the increasing saturation of smart phones (do you know a single teenager or pre-teen without his/her own mobile phone?), iPads, laptops and near universal access to the Internet, along with apps like Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging and others – our ability to share news or events within literally seconds of it happening is stunning. Much of the time the shared information is trivial and inane at best. But sometimes, like last Friday, the news can stun.
Then, in one of those oddly connected, not-so-random bookends that the universe throws at us every so often, the very next day after the horrific event at CV High, information channels all over the world were ablaze with tragic (yet not entirely unexpected for anyone familiar with her struggles and addictions) news of another untimely death – pop superstar and once-gifted singer Whitney Houston.
Although one could certainly argue that Ms. Houston’s death was also the result of a suicide – albeit a long-term and not nearly as deliberate an effort – it’s safe to say that both of these sad souls must have been terribly troubled individuals. I can’t help but wonder, with so many available ways to connect with other people, how is it possible that anyone today could live with such loneliness and despair that they ultimately disconnect from life itself?
Our family did not know the young man who died last week. And yet, we are connected. My wife and I are both proud alums of Crescenta Valley High. Three of our four kids graduated from there. My own two brothers and one sister graduated from CV as did one of my sisters-in-law. And as I noted above, I have a nephew who will graduate from CV this coming June. To say the least, we are a Falcon family to the core.
As such, we all grieve the loss of one of our own and send our prayers and condolences to all of those directly affected by this unfathomable tragedy. The school, this community, will forever be a different place because of what happened at the start of the lunch period on an otherwise typical February day in the Foothills.
I’ll see you ’round town.