A Sad Ending
I posted a few weeks ago about a young man from my neighborhood who had gone missing the night before Thanksgiving. This past Saturday, he was found. Unfortunately, it was not the outcome that anyone in my community had hoped and prayed and wished for. Shane Montgomery's body was recovered from the Schuylkill River not far from where he was last seen by a volunteer diving group called the Garden State Underwater Recovery Unit. These wonderful, compassionate people began searching at the request of the family in addition to police resources. Maureen Wittman, a family member of Shane has advised me that: "Garden State was called in as an additional resource. The Philadelphia Marine Unit was out on the river searching for our Shane every day." Fortunately and unfortunately, it was Garden State who ultimately found Shane. Fortunately, at least he was returned to his loved ones and they no longer have to wonder or search. Unfortunately, he has passed away and his death is devastating to his family and our entire community. He will be laid to rest this Friday after services on Thursday and Friday. You can read about that here.
I just want to thank everyone who shared my post or my posts on Facebook and who left kind comments. As I had indicated in my first post about this young man, his disappearance deeply moved my entire community. I have never seen anything like the mobilization I saw in this neighborhood after this young man went missing. It was truly humbling. I feel blessed, lucky and privileged to live among people like the ones who make up Manayunk and Roxborough. As this article in Philly.com says, "If love could rescue Shane Montgomery, he would have been home by dinner on Thanksgiving."
In their last press appearance, the parents of Shane Montgomery asked for privacy in the coming weeks and months so that they can mourn their son and move forward. I know that people are going to have questions about his death. (His uncle has said that it was ruled accidental but no other information has been released.) I can tell you from experience that the very best thing people can do is to respect that request for privacy. Because no amount of answers will satisfy our very human need to make some sense out of this tragedy. You can ask questions, speculate, theorize, grill others for information and talk yourself around and around what might or might not have actually happened until you're blue in the face. At the end of the day, it doesn't change a damn thing. It will not ameliorate the sense of loss that people who knew him feel or that the community at large feels from having lost one of their own. I can tell you from experience that even after you've unearthed every answer, even after you've satisfied every question your personal curiosity can come up with, the sadness doesn't go away.
I had a friend who lost children many years ago and I often acted as a buffer between her and the rest of the world. People always said to me, "I don't know what to say to her." Because there is nothing you can say. There are no words. There literally are not any words and believe me, people can say things that they mean as comfort but those things end up offending loved ones. The best thing you can do is to offer your condolences (just "I'm sorry for your loss" will do) and let the family and loved ones know you're there if they need something. But after that, it is a journey that loved ones must take on their own. Privately.
So to the Montgomery family I say: I am so very sorry for your loss. You will be in my prayers and in my thoughts.
Finally, please consider doing as the family has asked and donating in Shane's name to the Garden State Underwater Recovery Unit or to Friends of Saint John the Baptist--both were essential to the ongoing search for Shane Montgomery. You can find information on where to send your check here.
Rest in Peace, Shane Montgomery.