Friday, March 12, 2010

A Boy Lost

Lucas: This equipment doesn't fit.
Coach: No, it's you that don't fit.

Yesterday, when I opened AOL and the first news story was the death of Corey Haim, I gasped. My students had just started to enter the classroom and they, of course, looked at me with concern.  Even though I was fairly certain what their response would be, I said, "I just found out that Corey Haim died."  As I expected, "Corey Haim?  Who's that?"  My freshmen were born in 1996, after I had already graduated from college and well after the years when Corey Haim was my biggest crush.  In those pre-teen days, the crushes were many, but Corey Haim was the only celebrity I ever sent a fan letter to and when I got back a reply, with a signature that was in ink and not photocopied, I was sure that Corey had read my letter, been touched by it and somehow through the magic of the post office, we were now a part of each other's lives.

This week, my seniors wrote a response to the question, what is a life worth?  We have been discussing how human lives are valued -- the different qualities that have been lauded and loathed in previous eras and the current estimation of what makes a life one of value.  The response varied widely, from those who had definite and unshakable determinants of what makes one life more worthy than another to those who felt that placing value on a life was impossible, and even disgusting, because all human lives should be valued equally.  As the students wrote, I considered how I would respond to this sort of writing exercise. 

Tonight, I would like to offer this: A life is worth another life.

My freshmen are wrapping up A Tale of Two Cities right now and we have been discussing the redemption of Sydney Carton who offers himself up in Charles Darnay's place for execution so that the woman Carton loves, Lucie, can be with the man she loves, Darnay.  Carton lives a rather sordid and sometimes despicable life until he meets Lucie.  The goodness that she exudes helps him to be a better man and he tells Lucie to "think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you."

As a wife and a mother, I know this kind of love.  Each of my boys and my husband know that there is a woman who would give up her life to give them a life they love.  Until my sons are old enough to make this type of statement for themselves, their lives have worth because of my willingness to sacrifice for them.  At some point, their lives will have a renewed worth when they are willing to do this for someone they love. I pray that what I give to them, they will share with another.

As I think about Corey Haim, or any child celebrity Hollywood pretends to mother, but instead offers up on the altar of fame and fortune, I wonder if he had anyone in his life who he would have given his own life for -- if he had ever been shown the kind of unconditional, agape love that inspires one to be willing to put his own wants, desires, compulsions and addictions aside.  If he had, perhaps he would have met a different fate.  Now, he will always be a boy lost.

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