Friday, August 12, 2016

David Santucci: 3 Years Later

It is difficult to say something that has not been said or write something that I haven't already written on this topic, but here goes nothing. It has been three years since David Santucci was killed on South Main in Downtown Memphis and a lot has changed since that day. I imagine a movie in which the beginning shows scenes of how everyone reacted to the terrible news of Tucci's death and a fast-forward to what we are doing now. Many of us have gotten married and started families, and in ideal circumstances, Tucci would have been a part of all of those milestone moments. He might have some milestone moments of his own. Tragic events like this one, especially one that hits close to home, trigger a lot of questions. Philosophically, what is death? Are humans generally good or generally evil? What is justice?

I have a daughter now. She will be six months old next week, and becoming a parenting has added a whole new dimension to how I grieve Tucci's murder. The raw, instinctive emotion that a parent feels for a child is about as intense as it gets, so the ability to imagine what it is like to lose her does not exist for me. It falls squarely into the category of "unfathomable." And the idea that someone would hurt her is an altogether crippling feeling. For the families grieving David's death every day and not just on anniversary days, my heart aches for you in ways I didn't know it could ache.

Some day I will have to answer hard questions for Eila and attempt to instill in her the balance that we all must walk each day - the desire to live life to the fullest while being careful, aware of our surroundings and mindful of risk. I want her to understand justice in its purest form, but recognize that it is not always even-handed, is heavily politicized and is not always doled out in ways she might expect. I want her to love people with all of her heart but understand that loving people doesn't mean that people don't do terrible things. I want her to ask extra questions and think one level deeper. I want her to ponder solutions more than she dwells on problems. I want her to live in freedom and less in fear.

I hope she is like David was in many ways- seeking adventure, friendship, positive energy and productivity. He did not live in fear. He had a heart for helping others who were in no position to help themselves. He prioritized his health and his friendships. He made no excuses and got his work done. There are a lot of values I can instill in Eila by talking to her about David, and that is the powerful legacy he has left with me. Yes, he was a good friend and was taken from us too soon. But he can live on in how we treat others and how we teach our children to treat others.

Be at peace, friend, and may your spirit continue in us all as we strive to be our best selves in the same way you always strived to be yours.

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