The footlong meatball sub with extra cheese. I love those. But none have been the same for me since 20 years ago this past Tuesday.
On that day, I was nursing a broken heart from high school, and being an 18-year-old recent high school grad, my bottomless angst had me moping the summer away. So my brother took me to dinner, for my favorite sandwich. I didn’t have much of an appetite, but he took me anyway. Good to get out of the house and all.
When we were leaving, we ran into my uncle, who had just heard his grandson had been injured, possibly from falling off the front porch. We wished him well and headed home to eat, my brother still trying to pull me out of my funk, and me still dedicated to the blackness of my mood.
That was the last meal I had before that little boy died. The last meal I had before I personally knew a fatality from child abuse.
No sandwich has been the same since. None ever will. That last meal before you really lose a big chunk of your innocence is unique. The world tastes different after.
A bad man with bad problems took Corey’s life that day. And we didn’t know to even worry.
Child abusers, and violent persons in general, frequently have a history of cruelty toward animals prior to moving on to humans. In my career, I have unfortunately seen instances of animal cruelty that made me question the humanity of the perpetrator. Once your empathy toward any living creature with the ability to feel pain fails, the difference between four legs and two toddling legs can fade as well.
If you know of, or just suspect, cruelty or abuse regarding an animal, please report it. And if you know of, or suspect, cruelty or abuse regarding a child, skip the please and do something. Yes, you will feel awkward. And maybe end up looking like a nosy jerk. But you also may make the difference. Abused animals can develop emotional or physical issues that prohibit their finding a happy home in the future. Abused children are the greatest tragedy of all.
I don’t know if Corey would have been a businessman or a teacher, a farmer or the one to cure AIDS. And neither does anyone else. But I do know he loved how my hound dog and I wrestled in our backyard.
I miss him and wish I could have done something. If you can do something, do it.
Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org