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Thinking of Christian O'Keeffe

We were two ships sailing toward the same destination. Now he's gone, and I'm left with thoughts about the young poet, and his untimely death.

Several weeks ago, I read a Kent Patch story about a man who was hit by a train around midnight. This occurred not far from where I live. It seemed like an intriguing mystery. The police were unable to identify the victim. Who was this man who died on the rails? Why was he out so late? Was this a suicide?

I didn't consider the tragedy involved. Of course, I didn't know this man, whoever he was. He had nothing to do with me. He was a nameless stranger. Somehow, that made it easier to be interested in the story.

The victim was recently identified, and his name was released to the public yesterday. I saw it first on Facebook. The Wick Poetry Center posted a tribute to Christian O'Keeffe, a 20 year old Kent State student. I then received several emails about the tragic loss of Christian O'Keefe. I still didn't make the connection.

Kent Patch sent a breaking news alert in the afternoon. There it was -- The man hit by the train was identified as Christian O'Keeffe. As I read the story, I discovered that I knew Christian. We were fellow poetry students. He was in my classes. We were honored as Outstanding Poetry students and shared the excitement of our first poetry reading together.

Suddenly, the news story was horrifying, not interesting. The victim was not a nobody. He was a highly talent writer. He had family and friends and I knew him.

We were two ships sailing in the dark waters toward the same destination. Somewhere out there was an island paradise... A place full of sunshine and green foliage... With sandy white beaches and tropical birds. This place is where our dreams would come true.

As we sailed along, I think Christian was ahead of me. We'd both make it, but he would get there first.

What happened? Did a sail break, leading him into danger? Was he lost in a fog? Or did the beautiful singing of the Sirens lead him astray?

I'm thinking about Christian O'Keeffe. Did he remember me? Did he know my name or face? Did he listen to my poetry? Did he feel anything about my poems?

I knew him, but I am blind. I don't know what he looks like. I never saw his face. I never saw him smile or laugh. I don't know the expression on his face as he read his poetry.

I knew him, but I am deaf. I never heard his voice. I never heard the sound of his laughter. I don't know how he spoke when he read his poetry.

Did Christian O'Keeffe commit suicide? Does it matter? Oh, yes...I know better than most. For the family's sake, I hope they are right that this was a tragic accident. The alternative is unbearable. There will never be peace... just questions of "what if" and "if only."

God bless Christian O'Keeffe, his friends and family. He may be dead, but he isn't gone. He will always live on in memories and the poetry he left behind.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tina Puckett June 08, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Angie, when I saw Christian, it was something like feeling the sun warm on my face. When I heard him read, it was like being a little breathless in a deliciously cooling lake on a hot summer day. It was beauty from the inside out no vision needed--a good heart and soul from what I knew of him in the poetry world.
angie orlando June 09, 2012 at 01:57 AM
That's so beautiful. Thank you, Tina.
Tina Puckett June 09, 2012 at 03:47 PM
You're welcome, Angie. I thought that might help you to know him a little more. :)
McCombs June 10, 2012 at 04:05 AM
I too had poetry class with Christain...he was a very unique individual...I always loved to hear his voice while reading his poems...it just stood out the most...he will be greatly missed by a lot of people...his family & friends are in my prayers....
The Ever Present Herold January 24, 2013 at 06:24 AM
The voice of our generation. When this anachronistic character threw himself betwixt the train and the soft earth, my consciousness was shattered. his words were daggers into the fabric of my soul. Rest in peace? nay. Live forever young valiant creature.

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