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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

thinking of chrtian o'keefe

Blurb: We were two ships sailing toward the same destination. Now
he's gone, and I'm left with thoughts about the young poet, and
his untimely death.

Several weeks ago, I read a Kent Patch story about a man who was
hit by a train around midnight. This occurred not far from where
I live. It seemed like an intriguing mystery. The police were
unable to identify the victim. Who was this man who died on the
rails? Why was he out so late? Was this a suicide?

I didn't consider the tragedy involved. Of course, I didn't know
this man, whoever he was. He had nothing to do with me. He was a
nameless stranger. Somehow, that made it easier to be interested
in the story.

The victim was recently identified, and his name was released to
the public yesterday. I saw it first on Facebook. The Wick Poetry
Center posted a tribute to Christian O'Keefe, a 20 year old Kent
State student. I then received several emails about the tragic
loss of Christian O'Keefe. I still didn't make the connection.

Kent Patch sent aa breaking news alert in the afternoon. There it
was -- The man hit by the train was identified as Christian
O'keefe. As I read the story, I discovered that I knew Christian.
We were fellow poetry students. He was in my classes. We were
honored as Outstanding Poetry students and shared the excitement
of our first poetry reading together.

Suddenly, the news story was horrifying, not interesting. The
victim was not a nobody. He was a highly talent writer. He had
family and friends and I knew him.

We were two ships sailing in the dark waters toward the same
destination. Somewhere out there was an island paradise... A
place full of sunshine and green foliage... With sandy white
beaches and tropical birds. This place is where our dreams would
come true.

As we sailed along, I think Christian was ahead of me. We'd both
make it, but he would get there firs.

What happened? Did a sail break, leading him into danger? Was he
lost in a fog? Or did the beautiful singing of the Sirens lead
him astray?

I'm thinking about Christian O'Keefe. Did he remember me? Did he
know my name or face? Did he listen to my poetry? Did he feel
anything about my poems?

I knew him, but I am blind. I don't know what he looks like. I
never saw his face. I never saw him smile or laugh. I don't know
the expression on his face as he read his poetry.

I knew him, but I am deaf. I never heard his voice. I never heard
the sound of his laughter. I don't know how he spoke when he read
his poetry.

Did Christian O'Keefe commit suicide? Does it matter? Oh, yes...
I know better than most. For the family's sake, I hope they are
right that this was a tragic accident. The alternative is
unbearable. There will never be peace... just questions of "what
if" and "if only."

God bless Christian O'Keefe, his friends and family. He may be
dead, but he isn't gone. He will always live on in memories and
the poetry he left behind.

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