As most of you probably know, my cousin likely died this way last March, two days after his bar mitzvah and a day after the dedication of a sefer Torah in my grandfather's memory. I've been thinking of him lately, since it was just about a year ago that he died. In early March, I realized that his yahrzeit must be coming up, but I avoided looking up the exact (Gregorian calendar) date because it was just easier, less painful somehow, not to, and then I realized that it must have passed. After I read the article in this morning's New York Times, I felt I had no choice but to look up his yahrzeit. Indeed, his first yahrzeit was Shabbat, March 17, Shabbat HaChodesh, the 27th of the month of Adar.1 I feel bad that I didn't at least try and commemorate my cousin's life on that day. I wonder what his father, mother, and sister did on that day. I wonder what my grandmother, who is also his grandmother, did.
I don't really have much to say about my cousin's life, death, or the choking game. I said everything I had to say last year. It's still all so sad, and nothing ever stops making it sad. The only thing that has changed is that I think about him, my cousin David, much less than I did a year ago. That, too, is sad.
The only hope (and it's hard to call this a hope) in this agonizing mess is to educate oneself and others, especially kids between the ages of 9 and 17, about the choking game and the fact that it can kill you. Or, rather, as the NYT article advises, quoting Dr. Macnab, a professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia:
Mentioning specific, narrow risks from the game, he said, like brain damage, medication and physical disfigurement can be even more powerful disincentives to adolescents than the idea of dying, which can seem theoretical or abstract.Sigh...
1. David's second yahrzeit will be on April 3, because of Adar Sheini.