In the blink of an eye, something can happen that will change your health and well-being, your future, your view of the world. For example, you could be walking across the street, carefree and strong, and be struck by a car. You could have a brain aneurism or a heart attack.
Or some unknown person, with a twisted heart, could come out of nowhere and assault you.
These are not happy thoughts and not usually the type of thing that I write about on this blog.
But that was before some random person committed a violent act against my son who was punched so hard that his tooth was knocked out, who now has stitches all over his lips and gums with his teeth wired to his mouth, who still can’t understand how anyone could do something so violent for no apparent reason.
What happened? As my son was on his way home from the bar in London, Ontario with a girlfriend, a young man walking on Richmond Street in front of him suddenly turned around, punched him in the face and ran away. Many witnesses and even two police officers were on the scene. My son was on his knees, blood dripping from his face with his tooth in his hand, shocked and dazed. He never even saw who hit him. The police were of little help and told him he’d better get in a cab and get to the hospital. No report was filed. No attempt was made to catch the perpetrator.
My son is in fourth year at the University of Western Ontario and on the Western Mustangs Lacrosse Team. He has been gearing up for this lacrosse season physically for months and excited about it all year. After they shoved his tooth back into his mouth and stitched him back together, the doctor told him he wouldn’t be able to eat solid food for weeks and likely had more painful dental surgery in his future to save his front teeth. But that wasn’t what really upset him. The most devastating news that night was that he couldn’t participate in contact sports for 6 weeks. He was out for the season that he’d been looking forward to all year, his last season playing for the Mustangs. It was the year that he thought they might be able to win it all and they had just started the previous week with two wins. To suddenly be told he could no longer be a part of their quest was heartbreaking.
But he knows and we know that it’s done and now we must pick up the pieces and move on. When things go wrong, our brains often do the ‘what if’ or ‘if only’ dance. If we had done something different, if only it hadn’t happened and so on. Something like this with consequences that will be felt for months, is hard. Of course, we all know it could be worse. We’ve heard about violent crimes of this nature, often associated with young people and alcohol or drugs, where the damage is extensive, where sometimes people die senselessly. At least my son will heal and this will eventually be a bad memory.
The other obsessive and difficult thing to deal with is the anger, the need for some kind of retribution. I’ve seen his facebook statements about this incident and his friends’ comments, their rallying cries. A natural tendency is to want to find the guy, to hit him back, to sue the guy, to get even, to hurt as one has been hurt. The more one thinks about it, the more these emotions can swell up and make a bad situation, worse.
And for me, I feel outrage at the police who were there when it happened. Aren’t they sworn to serve and protect? My son and his friend said they seemed indifferent, didn’t want to bother with the situation. I called the London police last night to ask about this. We can still file a report and they have video cameras downtown so they may be able to find footage of what happened although it’s unlikely they’ll be able to identify the perpetrator from the video. We may pursue this. I’m not sure whether it’s a good next step or if one is best to ‘turn the other cheek’ at this point. The constable that I spoke with said there was nothing reported and it would be impossible for him to determine which officers were on the scene as there would have been about 100 of them out on the street on Friday night at that time.
But this astounds me. Is this type of thing happening so often that they don’t even try to stop it? Why are they working on the street if not to do something about violence like this?
I fear the answer is that with so many college and university students frequenting the bars in London, that there are fights and violent incidents all the time. All they do is break it up and move on. I’ve tried to find statistics but what would they mean anyway if most incidents are never even reported?
How do we stop this? Can we only grit our teeth when our kids go out at night (for we know they will not stay home) and hope that they are wise enough, or lucky enough, to steer clear of the lunatics?
I don’t know the answer to this but I do know what I must do. I must help my son to move on, to accept what can’t be changed, to try and turn this negative into a positive or at least a life lesson. And I must do the same.