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Life is a team sport

February 15, 2012

I am a lecturer of some renown — passionate, articulate and persuasive — my audience glued to their seats. Plus they have their seat belts firmly in place (clear evidence of an effective lecture) and I hold them captive. At least until they are self-sufficient (more lectures).

Here’s today’s lecture: Every, every, every problem has a solution. And your father and I will always, always, always love you. Period. End of speech.

But I have so much more to say.

I am keenly aware of the impact suicide has on a family. It struck ours in 2007. My heart breaks for the family of the young man who took his life at Crescenta Valley High on Friday. For the students, teachers and staff who witnessed his death. For friends who lost a loved one. And for Drew Ferraro himself. Suicide is a confusing, messy death. Mental pain and anguish is as lethal as a sudden heart attack or an undiagnosed cancer. It just looks so much uglier from the outside.

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My boys count on me for honest answers to any question, but after today’s speech they continued their normally scheduled programming: Facebook, Xbox, basketball, homework. I trust that they will revisit the issue when they’re ready. Our conversation remains ongoing.

The tragedy of suicide is how much suffering the victim endures on his own. When my cousin battled cancer, she had casseroles delivered, therapy, child care and pain medication. When my husband suffered from depression, he struggled alone, yielding another frequent theme: Life is a team sport. Proceed with friends.

I do not believe that life only gives us challenges we can handle. I do, however, believe in the power of love. It was love who delivered meals for my family. Love rounded up shoes, homework, lunches like a drill sergeant and ushered us up the hill to school on time. Love mended a favorite blanket shredded in a fit of grief. Love rolled up her sleeves and carefully, thoughtfully cleaned out Sam’s closet. Love got up early at 5:30 to run with me — and to watch my children while we did. Love took my hand, and introduced me to the man I married just over a year ago.

I pray that our children will navigate life’s challenges successfully. I am devastated that Drew was unable — for whatever reason — to find his way through the pain he endured. And I hope that as a community, we will support each of the broken hearts left in the wake of Drew’s death.

Charlotte Maya Stratz

La Cañada Flintridge

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