Saturday, January 28, 2006

Dean Kinske

A hard and sad day today. Dean Kinske, one of Liz's classmates, seems to have gone off the deep end last night, breaking into another classmate's home and holding people at gunpoint. The story in the Record Eagle said that Dean was on the run, the 11 o'clock news described him as "armed and dangerous".

Dean is the kid who was in Chess Club in 4th or 5th grade, but quit towards the end of the year because his mom had a baby and he wanted to stay home and help with his little sister. When he was 14 and 15 he worked at NJ's, the local grocery store, bagging groceries and stocking shelves. One day, while I was shopping, he thanked me for teaching chess, and said that chess club had helped him to be a better player. This was unusual; most high school freshmen are "too cool" to remember what they did in grade school, much less to say thank you to an adult for volunteering.

Dean's family bought a home in Suttons Bay and he attended school there for his junior year. We were glad to hear that he was coming back to Leland for his senior year.

I was shocked to come upon his father's obituary last August. Word around town was that Jon had killed himself. I went to the funeral home to support Dean, but he seemed to be the one supporting everyone else. He thanked me for coming. I told him how shocked and sad I was and asked him how his little sister was doing. He said that she was confused; that it hadn't really sunk in yet. I told him to just keep reminding her that her dad loved her. I was in tears by then. Dean seemed rock solid.

That was the last conversation I had with Dean. I asked around after the funeral and one of ny coworkers said that he had been out playing paintball with a bunch of guys, so I took that as a sign that he was getting out in the world. From time to time I asked Liz how he was doing, but he goes to TBA Career Tech school in Traverse City, so she didn't see him much.

Our sheriff described Dean as "a normal teenager". I've always thought of him as much more responsible and thoughtful than the "normal teenager". And the "normal teenager" is busy locking horns with a live dad, not trying to make up for one who is gone.

Tomorrow is another day. Tonight I pray for Dean, that he will be somehow safe and loved again.

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