To the editor:
I know someone who died today. He was someone who was beloved by many while remaining with an unusual amount of demons to slay. The demons won the day but hopefully someone else will pick up the fight and continue on.
Actually, he died several months ago. Every once in a while I think about his passing, usually because something happened in my own life allows me to remember him. This time thoughts of him were prompted by the tragedy that has been unfolding in Newtown, Conn. I am not sure of any correlations other than the empty feeling I am experiencing over each event.
Like many before him, his passing was senseless and unnecessary. I only knew him for a short period of time and had little opportunity to interact with him on a professional or personal basis. Nevertheless, his passing has had a large impact on my life and I continue to question why this is so.
I have made a personal choice to work with individuals in society who have been marginalized. This means that for some reason, these individuals have been pushed aside, treated poorly, shunned, etc. usually just because they do not meet someone's idea of what normal should be. My personal preference is working with people who are struggling with addiction while helping to show that sexual identity is just that and not something that defines who one is.
I was surprised at how much I was impacted by his death. When he came into my life he was viewed by some as an attention seeker and was seemingly dismissed out of hand. Of course he was seeking attention. Is it not a fundamental part of being human to seek out the acceptance and inclusion of those around us? It seems such a shame that the one thing he really wanted was the thing that others used to push him away.
The second time he came into my life was because of setbacks he experienced in life and his higher power decided it was in his best interest to be in the same place again. How sad for him that he was once again pushed away because of his behaviors instead of embraced simply for those shortcomings. Instead of being supported he was told that perhaps prayer was something he needed to solve all of his problems.
I know someone who died today. The third time he came into my life was through a post on Facebook. He wasn't a Facebook "friend" but was instead a friend of a friend. This is how I came across the posting. For whatever reason he died, it was even more difficult to see the outpouring of love and frustration over something that was senseless and perhaps should have never happened. The song that some viewed disparagingly as seeking attention was now silenced and replaced by a profound sadness from those who loved him.
I come from a generation that is rife with intolerance. Despite this, I, and the majority of those from the same generation, continue to make a contribution to changing the world for the better. Growing up in a different era, he would have been ridiculed and ostracized because he was different and only wanted some small measure of happiness in his life. Because of the contributions that my generation has made, he was able to find some happiness in his life despite the obvious differences that helped to define who he was.
Our own society embraces individuality while punishing those who embrace it on his or her own terms. Was it inevitable that he was going to die or did he leave us because we were not able to accept him for who he was? This is a question that I cannot answer but is one I believe we all can do something to change simply by being more tolerant of the individuality of those around us. Who knows when that person is going to be someone you care about or when that person is going to be me.
I know someone who died today.