Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"Maybe her feet were not really on the ground?": On the Death of a Teenager


Caroline posted. 


Went to a memorial for a 15 year old girl tonight. It poured. It was appropriate. No amount of tears feel right. I’m crying for Thea and for the Palestinians.


Its not something anyone ever wants to do.  But that’s what we did yesterday.  My, wife, daughter and I attended a memorial for a friend our 15 year old daughter.  It seemed all the 15-year-olds I know from or Elizabeth Irwin knew Theadora, their friend who threw herself out of her 16th story apartment building in April.  Earlier that day, she ran into our daughter and her friend at the Washington Square Park Arch. They stopped and talked about colleges and schools she planned to attend the next year.  They were going to Tompkins Square Park.  She was on her way home.  Come join us, they asked.  No, she needed to go home.   A hour later Thea took flight, crashing to the ground.  Her feet may never have been on the ground at all. But her death rattled everyone who knew her, particularly the kids, whose foundations were shocked, worldviews shaken.

 But what happened? That’s what some of us wondered sitting at Judson yesterday for the memorial.  Her first and sixth grade teachers delivered eulogies, tearing up, recalling a special kid who stood up to bullies.  She made me a friendship bracelet, another friend of her recalled.  The principal  recalled running into her at the student walk-out, kvetching about the walk-out she was participating in. Why is there pain?  Why is there sadness?  Can we look out for each other, he asked, pointing to a pain we all have a hard time shaking.
Sitting listening, I thought of my godfather, dad’s best friend who shot himself in 1975, that desolate 1975 feeling still with me today, all those years ago. Why’d he leave us behind? All those kids in Plano who killed each other in succession in the mid 1980’s. All my clients, it all comes sweeping back.
Walking around afterward, kids grasped each other, crying hysterically, their parents looking on, shell shocked.
What happened?
Why did she do it?
What was going on?
These are mysteries we will not have answers to.
The stories are all we have now, noted Micah, of Judson, after the service. 
We walked out into the rain, the sky screaming with colors. 
Now Thea is another of those strange memories, a part of the fabric, the footprints of the village, another of Jim Carrol’s people who died, this one jumping out of the 16th floor.  
I used to always wonder about what happened to my clients when they died, i told the little one.  I wondered if they were in the sky, in the clouds, their souls floating, liberated from their bodies.
I don’t want her to be with us in the sky, said the little one.  I’m afraid she’d still be sad.
Its been hell of a ninth grade.  In Parkland the kids had seventeen of these memorials.  And lashed back at the machine.  In Palestine, they have these memorial every day. US tax dollars at work, taking em out, grotesque. 
Can we still be connected to Thea like the hands in John Donne’s clock, making their way through time together?




But we’re not connected said the little one.
When we die everything is gone.
Is it?
We turn into dirt and then grow out into trees and become leaves in the spring and fly away in the fall, becoming part of the earth and growing again.  That's the most beautiful thing i can think of. 
Then we see them in our dreams, in the stories and memories, thousands of memories emanating out of the hundreds of bodies making their way out of Judson, going out into the city, to eat, sleep, and dream
Maybe her feet were not really on the ground?
Maybe she already was in the clouds?
Her psyche floating, somewhere else.
Maybe she was only half here?
And then she was leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when she’ll be back again.  So sad to see her go.

That's a hell of a departure, the worst decision she ever made, lamented her mother.
We’re all young for a bit, tasting the pain of growing, the delight in experiencing, even when the experiences we endure exist on double edged sword.
But its her life, her choice to leave or stay.
The little one danced and explored and participated in walkouts in the Greenwich Village her first year of high school.  She hung in the park and met other kids and talked and felt it all, including this premature goodbye.  It wouldn’t be a year in the village without someone dying, Jim Carroll reminded us all those years ago.
And maybe a part of her is still here, lingering.
As Carl Jung pontificated in an interview toward the end of his life.


Jim Carroll People Who Died
Teddy sniffing glue, he was 12 years old
Fell from the roof on East Two-nine
Cathy was 11 when she pulled the plug
On 26 reds and a bottle of wine
Bobby got leukemia, 14 years old
He looked like 65 when he died
He was a friend of mine
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends, and just died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died
Herbie pushed Tony from the Boys' Club roof
Tony thought that his rage was just some goof
But Herbie sure gave Tony some, some bitchin' proof
"Hey," Herbie said, "Tony, can you fly?"
But Tony couldn't fly, Tony died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died
Brian got busted on a narco rap
He beat the rap by rattin' on some bikers
He said, "Hey, I know it's dangerous, but it sure beats Riker's"
But the next day he got offed by the very same bikers
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends, and why did they die?
Teddy sniffing glue, he was 12 years old
Fell from the roof on East Two-nine
Cathy was 11 when she pulled the plug
On 26 reds and a bottle of wine
Bobby got leukemia, 14 years old
He looked like 65 when he died
He was a friend of mine
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends, and why did they die?
G-berg and Georgie let their gimmicks go rotten
So they died of hepatitis in upper Manhattan
Sly in Vietnam took a bullet in the head
Bobby OD'd on Drano on the night that he was wed
They were two more friends of mine
I miss 'em, they died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends, they just died
Mary took a dry dive from a hotel room
Bobby hung himself from a cell in the tombs
Judy jumped in front of a subway train
Eddie got slit in the jugular vein
And Eddie, I miss you more than all the others
This song is for you, my brother
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died

Caroline later posted. 



Went to a memorial for a 15 year old girl tonight. It poured. It was appropriate. No amount of tears feel right. I’m crying for Thea and for the Palestinians.



We'll miss you Thea. 









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