Lance was in my art class during the 2001-02 school year. He was a complete slacker and pothead, but an awful lot of fun in class. I’ve only met a couple of other students who worked so hard at failing art. He was smart, funny, and knew how to give me a hard time without crossing the line into being a jerk. I still remember the eye-rolling, forehead-slapping argument we had over getting him to use color in his self-portrait.
He had two favorite t-shirts. One of them was a Superman t-shirt, blue with the red and yellow S emblazoned across the center. The other was a Mr. Bubbles shirt. I have no idea where he got it, but it always cracked me up when I saw him wearing it.
This past school year, his younger brother, Eric, was in my English and Writing classes. Eric adored his older brother, and - unfortunately - seemed to be following his examples in earning grades. Even though he could answer almost any question I through out to the class, he barely managed to pass any particular quarter.
Lance is dead.
I just found out today. It happened two Saturdays ago.
Apparently, pot wasn’t the only thing he was indulging in. He got his hands on a shitload of methadone and overdosed. I don’t know the whole story, but he must have gone into respiratory arrest. An ambulance took him off to the nearest hospital, still nearly an hour away.
At some point, he told his mother, “Don’t worry, Mom, I’m SuperLance.”
It was the last thing he ever said. He went into cardiac arrest three separate times. After the third time, they couldn’t get his heart restarted.
So, now he’s gone.
He would have been sixteen this year. Maybe a junior, depending on whether he flunked other classes with as much enthusiasm as he did art.
This is the second student we’ve had die in a year. The other, Luis, was a suicide that hit us with no warning. In a high school of 130 students, that’s a horrible statistic.
I am so angry with Lance, that I don’t know what to do with myself. It was bad enough when Luis died. His suicide was probably attributable to a severe depression that never manifested itself in an outward expression until the very end. But Lance? He was looking for kicks. He was bored and thought he was indestructable. He was stupid enough to take one of the strongest opiates out there with no knowledge of what it could do to him.
About the only good that could come of this - and it’s grasping at straws - is that it may shake the complacency of many of our kids who think it’s no big deal to smoke, swallow, inhale, or shoot up anything they can get their hands on.