Friday, November 2, 2012

Aftermath of a Disaster

Hurricane Sandy left a path of destruction in its wake, and Staten Islanders are slowly trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.  Words cannot express my sorrow for all those who have lost their livelihoods, and their lives, both literally and figuratively, so, in this case, a picture is worth a thousand words:

Donations of food and clothing are being accepted at Tottenville High School and Susan Wagner High School, as well as at Mount Loretto.  Zion Lutheran Church is also collecting donations through November 16th, and Richmond Valley Animal Hospital is collecting donations for animals, including blankets, food, bowls, and toys.

A Life Cut Drastically Short

Felicia Garcia, March 11, 1997-October 24, 2012

Today, Felicia Garcia's body has been laid to rest.  It's been over a week, and I still can't wrap my head around her suicide at the Hugenot train station, in front of hundreds of horrified onlookers, including Tottenville High School faculty and students.  I keep replaying the scene over and over in my mind:  the looks on everyone's faces, the immediate mobilization to try to rescue her from under the train, her bruised and bloodied face as they carried her to the waiting ambulance, pumping oxygen into her all the while.  Again I see her right foot, missing its shoe, all dirty and scuffed, and remembering the chill that went through me, as I thought about the old-wives' tale that any accident with enough force to knock an injured person's shoes off, would result in death.  I keep wishing for one extra second, to notice her in time to grab her and pull her to safety.

The poor girl must have been troubled by so many inner demons during her short life, and yet had fought so hard to get so far.  To think about how desperate she must have felt, to finally stop fighting, to think that an escape from life would be a better alternative, is absolutely heart-breaking, especially when remembering my brother, and how he made the same decision only three years ago.  To think of all of the evil people walking around this world, while we lose such good, kind, vibrant souls, with so much potential and so much life left to live, is simply incomprehensible.  And those who witnessed her death are left damaged, broken souls, who must try to pick up the pieces and move on with lives that, mockingly, continue on in the face of such heartbreaking tragedy.

I can only hope that Felicia's passing will act as a wake-up call to teenagers today, to remember that we never know what others are going through behind closed doors, and to treat others in the best way possible. And since those at the greatest risk for ending their own lives cannot ask for help for themselves, I hope that their friends will ask for help on their behalf, from trusted adults.  It's too late to save Felicia, but maybe her death will save the lives of other teenagers.