Sometimes the news hits just a little too close to home.
Journalists, like cops, generally face calamity - as when an everyday garden-variety teen shoots a school bus driver, hijacks the bus and leads police on a made-for-TV movie-like chase - as just another day on the job.Experience and instinct - fueled by deadline adrenalin - take over. Editors bark commands; reporters work sources and chase leads. Controlled confusion evolves into a cohesive, cogent detailing of people and events.
The rush leaves little time for thoughts of real people.
Until word comes that the young man - likely distraught over the recent deaths of friends - has likely taken his own life.
Then the news hits too close to home.
My own son, only a few years older than Justin Allgood, lost his best friend in a traffic accident a few months ago. I remember too well that Saturday morning when I went to his bedroom to break the grim news. And I remember too well the weeks and months of pain, of wondering, of watching my own garden-variety teen deal with the sudden and senseless death of a friend.
I'm no psychologist. I think I don't really understand grieving. I'm just a parent who loves his kids, who tried to do whatever he could to help - and whose gut wrenched when he couldn't take away the pain. But I am eternally grateful to true friends and loved ones who salved the hurt.
When word reached our newsroom that Justin's grief likely led to suicide, my gut wrenched again - this time for Justin's parents. Their aching must be a thousand times greater than mine. And their confusion, anger and frustration must seem unbearable.
Life's screenplay isn't often fair. Easy answers to complex questions just don't exist. Life's characters, however, can work miracles with each other. May it now be so.