My son, Phillip, took this photo when he visited me in New York, back in 2009.
Today marks the first anniversary of his death. Over the past year, I’ve discovered many things about grief and about how awkward giving and receiving condolences can be.
People offer condolences and I reply, “Thank you.” People ask how I’m doing and I answer, “Fine.” Then, there’s that hush because…where do you go from there? Do I just carry on and start talking about the weather? A class I’m taking? My grandkids? Oops, I’ll never have any grandkids. So many taboo subjects now. Touchy, delicate subjects where there used to be none.
Here in Chile, we are in the thick of the Copa America soccer tournament. Soccer aficionados here are rabidly fanatic.
So far, Chile won its first game against Ecuadór. Then, we tied Mexico in the second game.
Yesterday our midfielder, Arturo Vidal, decided to go out to the casino, have a few drinks, and then drive back to Santiago. Before he made it back, he crashed his cherry red Ferrari into a tree. Apparently, he was slightly injured as were the other people involved. Charge: drunk driving.
Today, there is a big uproar about his behavior and this accident. Should he be punished? According to Chile’s drunk-driving laws, he’s subject to jail time. Should he be suspended from the team? He who scored two of Chile’s three goals against Mexico? He is a star here, a dios. Should he be held to the same standards as an “ordinary” person or is he above it all? He would not be the first celebrity to escape punishment simply because they are famous, but if there’s no punishment, what kind of message does it send?
Our hero and role model has already declared on camera, “No fue culpa mia.” It wasn’t my fault.
So, whose fault was it? I’m reminded of the old Flip Wilson skit, The Devil Made Me Do It. Maybe, like Geraldine, he was kicking the devil instead of putting his foot on the brake.
It looks to me like “the devil done got old Arturo,” as Geraldine might say.
The world is watching you, Chile. When you decide his fate, will you stand up and be a role model or has the devil got you, too?