In the unfortunate hours of yesterday afternoon, a young man drowned on the Kalamazoo river near Morrow dam in Comstock.
Normally, these events seem a distant sort of event, like hearing about an earthquake in Japan, or a tsunami in southeast Asia, despite the fact that the victims might be our own neighbors.
Preparing for my paddling in current class at Mayors Riverfront Park, we were all cracking jokes about the sewage release and about finding a dead body as if it would be like, Stand By Me.
Lining up kayaks near the river, a car pulled up and three people got out. A man, a woman, and a pimply-teenage boy.
She looked at me, standing there in my stupid red shorty-drytop, and my useless blue-lifejacket, and my retarded tow-rope, and she asks me, “Are you going to look for my son?”
Feeling about as tall as the mud near the edge of the river, I told her, “No ma’m. I’m just teaching a kayaking class on the river today.”
“Would you look for him while you’re out there, he’s black, skinny, short curly hair. I already buried one boy. Looks like I will bury two.”
In the longer hours of the evening, I have the opportunity to consider my fortune.
With both my children alive and well, and a rather casual attitude about swift currents, and turbulent water, I am unaccustomed to pondering the fate of those who do not intentionally play in the dangerous streams I do.
I spend most of my existence thumbing my nose at risk. That is, until I stare a grieving mother in the eye. Cold resignation, but grief, buried just beneath the surface, waiting, staring back.
It’s all fun and games until you’re looking for your own son’s body.