I never met Canaan Miller, but after spending only a few minutes with his friends and family, I really wish I had. Fresh out of high school, the grinning kid with the oversized 'fro was soaking up the last of his childhood. Skateboards, playing the drums, volunteering; these are the things Canaan did in the tiny town of Denton - even as he quietly weighed the scholarships in his pocket. For no, he worked. He was in the middle of a landscaping job on that day back in August, when he briefly stiffened before going suddenly limp. Doctors still aren't sure exactly why - but they Say Canaan most likely died before his body ever hit the ground.
I scarcely knew any of this yesterday when I met Canaan's mother. All I knew is a Davidson County woman wanted to honor her fallen offspring by bringing a skateboard park to distant Denton. Upon arriving, I had no more emotional investment than an overwhelming desire to get done early. But then Jennifer Miller produced a box of pictures, and her dead son's story came alive. A happy, handsome face winked at my viewfinder; a freewheeling bohemian who'd figured out life early. I could only nod quietly as the mother of four fought to process her loss. Thinking of my own kids, I sifted through now priceless photos and, for not the first time in my career, prayed I'd forever remain on this side of the victim's gallery.
Selfish? You bet - but we all gotta get through our day. Good luck on yours.