Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2001


Always young in our memory The grass is rapidly growing, we are busily planting flowers – and already watering. All around us, the signs of spring are so obvious. Typically, this tells us that a new season has come. Spring brings more sunshine and after a season when so many growing things went dormant, it also, in some way, proclaims hope with everything becoming alive. At least, that’s the way I think. More recently, though, there have been incidences, especially tragic ones, that are depriving a number of our friends and neighbors of noticing any sign of renewal in nature. Several of our young people have suddenly and tragically lost their lives. From all accounts, those lives held great promise and fulfillment. Some who know say those young people were exemplary of what was good, decent and shining examples of what America’s youths could all be. But, their lives were cut short and there are no human explanations. There is only the shared sorrow of communities that have come together to grieve. I didn’t know the young ladies from St. James Parish who expired, or several of those from St. John Parish, who, fittingly, have been meaningfully memorialized. My brother, Frankie, once coached young Juneau of Destrehan in baseball and considered him a fine human being with great character and a huge loss to our future. I did, however, know Michael Curtis Jr. I saw him grow up on the tennis courts. For years I played tennis with his mom and dad, Ginger and Mike. They were young parents who were avid tennis players and I met them long ago. As with many of the women I played with, the offspring were usually playing on the grounds of the club or in the swimming pool while we were on the court. So many times we stopped our game to attend to the youngsters. No one minded. We were all like one family and the children of players were easily accepted. Although in later years I didn’t see Michael as much, I could still keep up through Ginger at the tennis courts. It seems that he, like most children, grew up so fast. Older sister, Kristin, will finish college in nursing in May and younger brother, David, who had first been brought to the courts while in his playpen, is grown enough to enjoy scooters under the watchful eyes of his parents. When I, like so many other friends, went to the Curtis home following the tragic news, it was with a heavy heart and a feeling of helplessness, but not hopelessness. We all knew that Michael had been a fine young man who attracted quality people to himself and that his young life had been good. Ginger told me that she truly believed that the last nine months of Michael’s life had been his happiest. Mike Sr., while steeped in the pain of having lost a son, was able to echo those sentiments. The last time they spoke, Michael was happy and had said “I love you” to them. As loving parents, they had always tried to protect their children as much as possible, being there for them. Michael worked with them when necessary and followed their direction. He was never any problem and they trusted him. When he lost his life so suddenly and unexpectedly, his parents, sister. brother, family and friends were left to reflect on the happiness and fulfillment Michael had experienced in his young life – and the joy he had been in their lives. The young people we have lost will always be just that – young; never to grow old. And, their spirits and fine examples will always be with those who knew and loved them. As I’ve said, there are no words to express the sorrow we feel in the loss of Michael, Jonathan and our other young people. I found this by Frederick Spense in a favorite book of poems: “Our friends are not lost. They have marched out in the mist of the morning and with trembling fingers have touched a gate that swings only inward into the light.” ANNA MONICA is a resident of Garyville. She writes this column every week for L’Observateur.