An Unanswered Question

Somewhere between the intense coverage of  the arrival of Hurricane Gustav on the Gulf Coast and the revelation that the daughter of the conservative GOP nominee for Vice-President was pregnant, there are stories that fall through the cracks. One story was the death a local 20-something and it caught my attention for very selfish reasons.

David Sunseri Junior was found dead in his apartment Saturday morning. The cause of death, according the papers today, was sleep apnea. His death grabbed my attention for two reasons. First, he was 24 years old. Second, I had just met him 10 days earlier.

He was one of this year’s honorees at the Cystic Fibrosis fund-raiser known as “50 Finest”. It’s an event in which I have served as emcee the past dozen years. It recognizes the top 25 single men and 25 single women and their efforts helped to raise $200K for research into cystic fibrosis, one of the leading killers of young people. David, part of the Sunseri family which owns the famed Pennsylvania Macaroni company in the Strip district, was our second leading find-raiser this year … with more than $6,000 raised for the event. With a bright future ahead of him, he suddenly did not wake up one morning.

David Sunseri, Jr: I just met him August 21st. Now, he’s gone and I’m wondering why.

I guess I need to preface this by saying I’ve never been good at handling death. While I am a person of faith and have always subscribed to God having “a plan” for all of us, nevertheless it’s still not easy to accept someone’s death especially when it happens too early in one’s life. You can have all the faith in the world, but as far as I know no one has come back from the “great beyond” to let us know what happens on the other side .. or if there is an “other side”.

Also, why is it that someone so young and so full of promise and hope dies before he or she reaches his prime while someone like me gets to wake up every morning? I have these same thoughts every time I read a story about some young person shot on the streets of Pittsburgh during an act of senseless violence. I always question it … and the truth is there is no explanation that I have ever found satisfying.

I lost my college roommate shortly after we graduated in 1989. He died in a drunk driving accident. He was the passenger, asleep in the back, and was killed instantly while the driver walked away with only bumps and bruises. I never understood why his life was taken while everyone else lived. Maybe hearing about David’s death flashed me back to that time in my life and rekindled those same questions some 20 years later.

I know death is one of those things you eventually accept as part of life, just like having children, your hair turning gray and your knees giving out. Still, it’s never been easy for me to accept mortality being such a random thing in that it takes our youngest for no reason at all while it allows other to live long, full lives.

Sorry about the rather somber mood of today’s entry. I still hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend.

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