Reasons for some events not easy for us to know

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 15, 2008

My wife is quite a good photographer.

She especially likes to take pictures of people—our friends, family members, and more than anything—the kids.

But I have one picture that she took many years ago, and it is still one of my favorite.

It is a black and white picture of my three daughters, all under the age of eight or so, sitting in a few inches of water on the beach at the Gulf Coast. They are all very young, laughing quite hard, and obviously not having a care in the world.

Not only was it a great picture reminding me how sweet my girls are, but it tells me that these innocent ones have a life ahead of them like the rest of us, where things won’t always be so funny, and life won’t always be so innocently perfect.

That point hit home pretty hard this week, for myself, and probably most of the people who live anywhere around here.

When news hit about the unbelievable event on Blind River last Saturday night, when five young boys from the area were killed in a boating accident, it was the kind of event that most people just shake their heads about and say, “couldn’t be true.”

But by today we all know how agonizingly true it is.

Five young boys, Ken Horzelski, 22; Joshua McNulty, 20; Patrick McTopy Jr., 23; Chance Millet, 25; and Stanley Borne Jr., 22; all died in the accident. A sixth, 21-year-old Brandon Charles Prudhomme, is still in serious condition in the hospital.

And all week long, people in the River Region have mourned the death of these young boys, while trying to find some sense in the whole matter.

I went to one of the funerals this week, since we decided that the least L’Observateur could do was to tell the stories about these boys in today’s paper. The reporters here all stepped in to do a part, and between myself, Robin Shannon and Jim Mustian, we have covered the funerals, talked to family and friends, and hopefully written some positive stories in today’s paper that will leave folks with the feeling that the lives of these young men mattered.

And as one man said to me, that was the real tragedy about it. These boys—and I do feel correct in calling them boys even though they were in their 20s—had hardly begun to find out about life.

Those of us who are older now realize that when you are 20, or 22, or 24, that you are still trying to even figure out what you want to do with your life. How many college kids do we hear about who are closing in on graduation, but admit “I’m still trying to decide what I REALLY want to do with my life.”

That was the case with these young men. They were barely out of high school, some having a little time in college, and mostly still testing the waters of life to see whether they were ready to dive all the way in.

Even like my daughters in the picture, they were still so innocent, that they didn’t even realize all the way how brutal life can be. Nope. Most people we talked to were saying a lot about how much fun they liked to have.

And at that age, I sure hope they were still having fun. Heck, we older folks know that life would soon begin to knock them around, bringing big and little challenges, that they eventually would understand what life is really all about.

Like my little girls, who still didn’t have any idea that life really WASN’T a bowl full of cherries, these guys were still just looking for some fun to hang onto their childhood as long as they could. And as far as I’m concerned, I would say “good for them.”

But today the River Region is still suffering, still trying to make some sense of what has happened. Unfortunately, there is no good answer. There is no way to yet figure out what the good in this may be, even though the Bible tells us that “all things work together for GOOD to those who love the Lord.”

Yes, it’s right there in the eighth chapter of Romans. But for now, please don’t try to use that, or anything else to explain to grieving family members that you understand why this happened. The truth is, none of us do, nor might we ever understand until we talk to the man upstairs face to face.

I visited with many people this week who knew these boys up close, and I could feel the pain, and the utter disbelief that has engulfed them all. I could sense our entire area is still shocked, and will be for some time to come.

For today, my only words to any who were close to these boys is simply “I’m very sorry for your loss. I wouldn’t pretend to say I understand, since I don’t. I’m just very sorry for your loss.”

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at