It’s the Impression That I Get…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, March 26, 2011

I’m guessing that even for you who live outside of West Michigan this week’s cartoon won’t require too much explaining. Wes Leonard was the young man and star athlete from Fennville, Michigan who on March 3rd collapsed and died after scoring the winning basket in a playoff game. It was an absolutely stunning tragedy, bordering on unreal. It was international news for quite some time as the Fennville basketball team continued to win before being knocked out by the eventual state champs.

Last week, Wes Leonard’s family wrote an open letter to the community, which was published in the Grand Rapids Press. If you have not read it, follow the link. It’s definitely worth it. It struck me as one of the purest, most graceful examples of human dignity I have ever experienced. Something to be inspired by and to aspire to. But it also made me wonder — could I handle something so horrible as well as the Leonards? And it made me wish — I hope I never have to find out.

There was a song by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones called “The Impression That I Get,” which was running through my head as I was drawing. Sample lyrics:

Have you ever been close to tragedy
Or been close to folks who have?
Have you ever felt a pain so powerful
So heavy you collapse?

No? Well…
I never had to knock on wood
But I know someone who has
Which makes me wonder if I could
It makes me wonder if
I never had to knock on wood
And I’m glad I haven’t yet
Because I’m sure it isn’t good
That’s the impression that I get.

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