When Max was younger, I used to make individual portraits of his classmates on the first day of school. Each well-groomed child was brimming with excitement, dressed in his or her favorite outfit, showing off a new haircut, an extra inch or two in height, a tan from the summer sun and often a confidence that they didn’t have when school had let out in June.
One of my favorite portraits from that era was of a kid named C. When he was in first grade, he had a toothless grin, a face splattered with freckles and an untamable cowlick. He had an impossibly bright sparkle in his eyes.
Yesterday C., now a college student, turned himself in at a local police station.
Seems he had been out partying and in the wee hours of Mother’s Day had hit and killed a pedestrian who was crossing the street in our neighborhood. There were two other boys in the car with C. Who knows what happened, what was said, what went through their minds, what really happened in those few horrific seconds, but the young men drove on. They left the twenty-five year old man who was attempting to cross the street right where he was. He was pronounced dead at the scene, though we do not know yet how much later that was.
According to the news story, which just broke yesterday, the two friends who had been in the car with C. finally came forward and told the story to police. It was four or five days later. C. had no choice at this point but to put on his khaki pants, a blazer and tie, and head (with his attorney) over to the police station.
There’s a mug shot of him, looking stoic and serious, that has been shown on the local news, and I can’t help but wonder each time I see it where that little kid with the goofy grin went.
You try and you try as a parent to instill in your children the ability to make the right decisions. You have all those talks about not drinking and driving, all those talks about living up to your responsibilities even when you’ve messed up. You conjure up all the worst scenarios when they are not home yet, and it is past curfew; you have nightmares about all the ways things can go wrong. You would rather die than see your kid get into trouble or, worse yet, suffer the unbearable consequences of someone else’s kid’s horribly stupid mistakes.
And then, suddenly, for families too close to home, you see it happen. You see everything come tumbling down around them.
It’s a situation that is sad for so many reasons, and one that will have this town talking for quite awhile. I, for one, have a heavy heart for all four boys (and their families) involved. And I’ll probably pull out that picture of C. sometime soon just to remind myself who he used to be.