I leave in 4 hours for the airport to fly to KC for a noon funeral for our beloved DeShawn. I spent the evening doing anything but thinking about this. But now the flood of issues spill forth and writing is the only way I know to express what I feel.
Despite the haranguing I took from the blogosphere this week on Citadel, I know that what I do and say works for me and that I must do what I do. It is why I met DeShawn and I am better for that.
I've been called a do-gooder, a hero, a sycophant, a narcissist, a dangerous subversive, a pioneer. It is very odd to have people comment on what they see as your motives for how you live your life. Eveyone is entitled to their opinion, including me. Tonight, my opinion is dark and foreboding. I feel like an impotent charlitan who thinks they can make an impact on the world only to see that it is a grain of sand on a vast beach.
I can intellectualize for hours about the urban condition and race relations. I can craft rings of logic around racists and dullards that will tie them in knots. I can champion a cause, advocate for a position, sit in judgment, and create understanding with the best of them. But none of these skills I possess will change the fact that a young person died. Cynics will attest that thousands of people die every day and more are born every day. It is like life is some huge conveyor belt where we get on and fall off - either during the journey or when the belt comes to an end. Realists will say, it is what it is and it is inevitable. Preachers will comfort us, friends and neighbors will join in commraderie to support the living, and the chapter of the world that had DeShawn in it will be closed. He was here and now he is not.
But we all have an impact on the next person - whether intended or unintentional. Whether it is Scrooge or George Bailey - each person affects the next. Some people look at it like dominos where the impact is sustained, each to the next. I think of it more as a ripple effect that ebbs and flows and gets pushback. Ripples don't die out, they just meet an immovable object that pushes back and moves the ripple in another direction. That's how I want to think of DeShawn. Not as gone and forgotton, but a ripple that met an immovable object and is now pushed off in a new direction. His energy is still with us though his body may be finished. That energy is roaming and is affecting people he didn't even know - like the people that are reading this. He affected me in ways that he was never aware of. So maybe we aren't impotent and maybe we aren't charlitans. Maybe we should not feel dark and foreboding, but enlightened and flush with the understanding that our "life" is energy that never ends. I'll see DeShawn tomorrow in the faces of his family, in the grief that will pour from friends and neighbors. I'll feel his energy in the hope that we all have for others to not have their ripple interrupted so soon. I'll know he is out there moving his energy to have interactions in new ways that we don't yet comprehend. It will be a good day.