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The Student News Site of Prospect High School

ProspectorNow

The Student News Site of Prospect High School

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Grief, Harry Caray and Herculean strength

Grief, Harry Caray and Herculean strength

imgresBy Garrett Strother
Entertainment Editor 
When I was little, my father and I made the trip down to Wrigley to go see a Cubs game. I remember very little about the game itself, where we sat or who the Cubs were even playing that day. However, I vividly remember being entranced by a mural on the wall behind us.
As I looked, dark, beady eyes stared back at me through Coke-bottle glasses. There was a charismatic energy and an almost contagious smile with the minimalist painting’s caricatured subject, and I asked my father who the man was.
I learned that it was a painting of Harry Caray, the famed announcer for the Cubbies. I asked my dad if he was announcing the game today, and he said no. I asked why not, and he replied, with nonchalance and finality, words that perplexed my little brain: “He’s dead now.”
I had encountered death before, too young to really comprehend what it meant. I’d had a few great-grandparents pass away as well as a dog, Elizabeth, who I only knew well enough to remember as a vague idea rather than an actual animal.
But that day, sitting in the green bleachers of Wrigley Field with my dad and looking back on a mural of a man who died two months before I was even born, is when the reality and magnitude of death really set in.
I then was beginning to understand that I would never see Harry Caray, or hear his voice as I sat in those very bleachers. That people died and we never saw them again, at least not on Earth. I knew about Heaven and God and all that, but again had never really stopped and thought about them before.
I am fortunate that, in the short time I have been here, I have not had to deal very much death. The two people I remember dying that really affected me were my great-grandpa George and a friend from my Boy Scout troop. During each of their funerals I remember thinking back to that day at Wrigley, and how they’re with Harry Caray now.
On February 18, 2015, I had my most recent loss. A few minutes before my sister and I left for school, my dad found one of our cats down in the laundry room. He was six and a half years old, and my family had gotten him and his brother, Charlie, from my Uncle Jarrell in Texas the summer after they were born.
Not that we ever expected him to last this long. He was the runt of the litter, weighing seven pounds at his peak and looking perpetually like a kitten. He coughed when he ate or drank and his legs tremored when he walked. His misfortunes prompted my grandmother to name him Hercules, because he had so many challenges to overcome.
My actions the rest of the day were entirely somnambulatory, and school merely served as a mild distraction to the grief and shock I was experiencing.
My mind once again went back to Harry Caray, although in a very different way. I became increasingly frustrated as I grappled with ideas that I could barely attempt to tackle when fully-functional, let alone mere hours after receiving such news. Do cats have souls? If so, would Hercules go up to the same heaven as actual people, purring in Harry Caray’s lap for the rest of eternity?
I was irritable with the fact that, as these thoughts curdled in my head, the world around me continued to move, not slowing for any instant to mourn the loss I felt. I was angry that my teachers kept teaching, that kids kept making dumb jokes and finally, and perhaps most aggravatingly, that the sun had the audacity to continue climbing higher in the sky.
Eventually I let these thoughts subside, washed away by a more serene line of thought. I remembered that, despite all the setbacks Hercules faced everyday, how happy he seemed to be. He could curl up at your feet for hours on end, blissfully chirping any time you decided to rub his stomach or scratch behind his ears. I remembered how he kept me company the day I found out about the death of my friend, and what comfort a loving pet could bring.
The hardest struggle grieving brings is not in the acceptance of death, but moving on with a member of your family missing. However difficult it was for me to shuffle through school that day, it was exponentially harder to leave Hercules at the crematorium, and come home to give Charlie a scratch behind the ears.
Don’t dwell on the pain grieving brings. Carry the love of whoever you lost with you and share it with the world you have to face. Death is inevitably painful, whether it’s your pet or your grandparent, and just because you shouldn’t wallow in the pain doesn’t mean you won’t.
But you still have to move on and put yourself out there. Don’t stop yourself from getting a pet because of the painful part at the end, because you’ll have their whole lifetime of good parts to look back on. You have to stand up and tell yourself “it’s worth it.” So pick up your microphones, and, in the immortal words of the late legend, “let me hear ‘ya!”

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