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Thread: Bummer of a day

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  1. #1

    Default Bummer of a day

    I just got back from the funeral of one of my ex-wrestlers. By the request of the father, I gave a eulogy. I would have gladly given my left nut instead. He died from a "self-inflicted gun-shot wound". A shot gun blast under the chin that took the top of his head off. After 24 hours of his not responding to cell-phone calls, his father discovered the body at Robert's apartment.
    I first met Robert as a sixth grader when he showed up for the first day of wrestling practice. He was an awkward, clumsy,un-athletic marshmallow kind of a kid. Basically, he was a prototypical nerd. Our middle school program is designed to give the kids a taste of wrestling with some opportunity to develop very basic skills. It means that we don't have to convince high school freshmen that wrestling isn't gay, isn't WWF, and really is a legitimate sport.
    It didn't take long to realize that Robert was different from the rest of his 6th grade class. Over the summer he had taken (remember, he is 10 years old) a couple of computer classes at Ventura Community College. He got the second highest grade in his classes. He conversed with me as if he were an adult speaking with an adult. It took me a bit to realize that this kid wasn't intimidated talking to an adult - much less a big, loud, (use to being) intimidating adult. I quickly figured out that "smoke and mirrors" wasn't going to work - I had to be completely honest and completely vulnerable with this kid to win his acceptance.
    The other thing that I quickly learned was that he was a terrible athlete, much less wrestler. He was the proto-typical nerd. About 1/2 way through his 7th grade year I told him that it wasn't important if he won - don't get pinned. (He was going against a much more technically superior wrestler.) He got his butt kicked - but didn't get pinned! Before long, he was scoring against his opponents, then winning, then pinning. His social skills sucked. I promised his dad (another Viet Nam Vet) that I would have him, at least, housebroken by the time he got to high school.
    He moved up to the high school and wrestled his freshman year. He was nothing to get excited about - but he won his fair share of matches. His sophomore year he chose to participate in the drama program (more lights, sound equipment, computer programs, etc.) In the meantime, he had hacked into the high school computer system and created enough problems to be completely banned from even touching a computer at the school.
    After he left the wrestling team, I lost contact. More my having other people to be concerned about than any other reason. I guess I just didn't care enough.
    Robert graduated at the end of his Sophomore year. He took a full load at the high school, and supplemented that with classes at the local Junior College.
    After he graduated high school he began taking local college classes and working free-lance as a computer guru. He found a girlfriend. He got his own apartment. Life was good. Then, at 19, he blew his brains out. Accidental or suicide hasn't been determined. Trust me on this folks, a bright light in he universe has just been snuffed out. The world is a darker place for his passing.
    His dad asked me to provide a eulogy. After I talked about what an absolute pain-in-the-ass he was, I talked about his absolute, undeniable genius. I finished by paraphrasing Rodgers and Hammerstein:

    Many a thing you know you'd like to tell him
    Many a thing he ought to understand
    But how do you make him stay
    And listen to all you say
    How do you keep a wave upon the sand
    How do you solve a problem like Robert, How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand.\
    I am going to miss Robert. And I am going to spend the rest of my life wondering what I could have, should have, done to prevent this loss.
    Folks, look to the Northern Lights. Robert will be hacking into the system and modifying them to meet his own definitions. Watch for it!

    R.I.P. Cyrano and Roxanne.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Bummer of a day

    Quote Originally Posted by M Richardson View Post
    I guess I just didn't care enough.
    That sucks man! I know you're going through some stuff right now and you are entitled to those feelings. I will just say from reading what you wrote, the part I quoted couldn't sound further from the truth. It's been a tough few months for you from what I've read. Hope it gets better. You can't blame yourself.

  3. #3
    Olympic Champ kr1963's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Clearwater, Florida, United States

    Default Re: Bummer of a day

    You can't make people survive, you can only show them that they have a choice & a future. People do this sort of thing b/c they don't feel like they have one....sorry for your loss. may your friend RIP & find a future in his next game....

  4. #4
    Olympic Champ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Danville .Indiana

    Default Re: Bummer of a day

    Rob Swift ( as close to a son as i ever had ) wrestled 160 for me .He died in a car crash and the police stated liquor was found in the car.(an unopen bottle of wine his mom had purchased)-anyway, I was as shook up as I'd ever been and when i arrived at the funeral home nearly every kid i'd coached and all the mat maids were there looking to me for support .i put on my best strong face and made it through the day. rob was a surprise baby(his parents were in their 60's when he was a freshman.He'd been babied his whole life and he tried to quit his first match ( claiming asthma ) i made him finish(he won)and from that day on he called me every day . Had a full ride to IU and carried a 4.0+ GPA. just a great kid .
    I still awake often remembering the day his father called me and told me rob had died .I hated god for a long time after that. Then one day at the library a book fell off the shelf about the death of a young man written by his father . The father claimed his son communicated with him . I sat down and calculated the speed the earth moves through the galaxy and the force of gravity and the fact THAT book fell right in front of me and concluded it was meant for me to read this book .
    sorry for the length .
    You know, I think I would rather be a man than a god . We don't need anyone to believe in us. We just keep going anyhow. It's what we do.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Bummer of a day

    Quote Originally Posted by M Richardson View Post
    His dad asked me to provide a eulogy.
    That says it all. Props to you for stepping up and doing so much for Robert.

  6. #6
    Ancient Arachnid Spider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Default Re: Bummer of a day

    M, if you tried to devote as much time to each kid as he needs, you'd spread yourself so thin that none of them would get enough. You were obviously a major influence in Robert's life, and he was a happier and more confident kid as a result of your efforts. Why a complex intellect such as him comes to such an end may never be known, but I doubt you could have prevented it. If someone else in a similar situation as yours came to you for advice, you'd probably tell them just what others and I are telling you, and you'd tell them to focus on their positive contributions and not on some imagined shortcoming. Please cut yourself the same slack as you would that someone else.
    Atrophy: what you get when you win atournament.

  7. #7
    NCAA Champ WhippetGrappler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Moved to Suffolk, VA

    Default Re: Bummer of a day

    Hindsight is 20/20. When we replay life's events back through our minds, we always find something we could have or would have done different. We must just make the most of of every moment in life that we have.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Bummer of a day

    That's a tough one. Sorry for your loss
    RIP Jacob Schlottke; KR1963 and rpayton

  9. #9

    Default Re: Bummer of a day

    Thank you all for your supportive answers.
    Needless to say, I have been experiencing the various stages of grief - at the time I made this entry, I was feeling guilt. Right now I am somewhere between anger and acceptance. I would really like to get Robert by the stacking swivel and shake him until parts rattle loose. How dare he do that to all of those who love him!?! Especially, how dare he subject his loving father to finding him - brains all over the ceiling - a day after the deed. I want to kick his a$$ for what he did to his dad, and to his mom (not my favorite person, but then I am even lower in her estimation), and to all of us who loved him.
    At the same time, I am coming to grips with the fact of his death. Give me a couple of weeks and the worst of the pain will be passed. (Although his ghost is still due for an a$$ kicking if I catch it!)

    R.I.P. Cyrano and Roxanne.

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