Editorial: We can all grow after a series of tragic events

by Carly Marsh, Production Editor

The past three months have been less than cheerful for many in the Saint Vincent community. With the passing of Dr. John Serafin in November, Coach Kristen Zawacki in December, and most recently art professor David Ludwig in January these past three months remind me of the months leading up and in to my freshman year at Saint Vincent, last year.

I was living life happy-go-lucky as any freshly graduated high school senior does…until a series of events commenced, much like the series of events our community at Saint Vincent is going through now. Let me explain:

May 2009. Someone is given a number of months to live, my mother’s best friend, Lynda. We are all gathered around a hospital bed a few weeks later, the line on the monitor screen, flat, a dull beeping sound accompanying it. I am standing by my mother, as our roles were reversed and I became her support.

Lynda’s daughter Rachel is by the bed, a calm look is upon her face. She comes over to talk to us. She is excited to be graduating from high school the next day. Her mother never had the chance to congratulate her, yet she was there to push her daughter through, to help her carry on with her life.

Lets flash forward:

June 2009, a mere three weeks later. The telephone at our home rings, my mother answers. I watch her go into the sun-room, drop the phone and let out an earth-shattering scream. She turns on the television. The news is already on. There was a car crash, and it was Rachel’s car on the TV, totaled, on the road, three minutes from her house. She wasn’t wearing her seatbelt. She would never make it on time for her shift at work.

Flash forward again:

September 2009. Not even two weeks into my college career, I find myself on Facebook while in the library. I have a group invitation “Help find Joe.” My jaw drops. The boy who sat next to me in astronomy senior year is missing after a night at Penn State. The next afternoon he is found. He is lying at the bottom of a stairwell. He would never take his college exams.

Flash forward one last time:

January 2010. Again I am on Facebook. A new group invite, “RIP Toby.” This is where I lose it. This could not be happening. A starting player on my high school’s football team would never play a game again and would never graduate.

In six months I had lost four people who I was close to in some way. I not only felt lucky to be alive, but lucky to have known those four people while they lived. Each experience with the passing someone brought me closer to becoming the person I am to today.

Lynda’s passing taught me to cherish time with my family and to treat them with respect, always. Rachel and Joe’s passing taught me to be responsible with my actions and to never take time or life for granted. Toby’s passing taught me to always keep in contact with my friends, and to always keep an eye out for them.

The whole series of events opened my eyes to how fragile life is. I finally realized the one thing that teenagers and young adults often refuse to believe, I am not immortal. It made me realize that now is the time to live my life to the fullest potential.

In the wake of these past three months at Saint Vincent many are experiencing grief and confusion, often asking “why?”  I give you my story to illustrate that death happens and that when we experience the death of a loved one we have many choices. We can choose to fall into a depression and be dead to the world, or we can choose to grieve and then to learn from our grief. We can choose to live a better life.

While grief shall run its course, I ask all who have been affected by the unfortunate passing of our loved ones to remember the good times that were shared with Dr. Serafin, Coach Zawacki and Mr. Ludwig. I also ask all affected to remember and take to heart all of the lessons they may have learned from these individuals.

While the passing of our loved ones is a saddening, let the events be life changing. I hope that everyone who was touched by these individuals uses whatever he/she has learned to help carry out the legacies of Dr. Serafin, Coach Zawacki and Mr. Ludwig.

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