teenage grieving: saying goodbye to the quarterback

I write for the teenage/post-adolescent/new adult demographic and I find it hard to get down to the emotional and gritty scenes. Like everyone, I wish all lives could be care-free, free of disease, poverty, hate and I will go as far to say, um, crooked politics! Especially of all, we wish those close to us would never leave our side or the world.

Tonight’s episode of Glee had me feeling anxious and apprehensive about seeing it. I considered my reluctance as being petty, because I never knew Cory Monteith and could only imagine what the cast and crew felt while working on the episode. However, the reality is that the Cory/Finn fate could happen. There were students we lost when I was in high school, and their lockers become shrines and counselors offer grief sessions, and weeks afterward are the somber and awkward of days. Flipping the coin, seeing that Monteith is only a year older than myself, you being to wonder: what if that was my friend?

Seeing the news break online was shocking and heartbreaking. After all, I let Cory/Finn become household names mid-way through the first season when I became a devoted viewer. I watched solely for the writing and as research to sharpen the interactions with teenagers/teenagers and teenagers/adults that I could apply to writing. As I went back to watch the beginning episodes, Finn had me at REO Speedwagon and later, Journey at regionals. We never passed the threshold into TV crushville (I reserved that for Puck), but that soft-spoken character, Mr. All-American was literally the quarterback of the show, both on the field and in the choir room. I was even involved with the whole “Finchel” drama and rooted for Rachel over Quinn who to me, was just some crazy loon who tried to convince Finn he got her pregnant after a hot tub make out sesh.

“The Quarterback” was a perfectly-penned episode to show the emotions teenagers face when a friend is gone. I have not seen this much rawness or emotion like this in Degrassi or Skins. Each character shown a part of the grieving process that reflected back to their relationship with Finn. Kurt’s loss of a brother, Rachel’s loss of a love, Puck’s loss of a best friend, the glee club’s loss of a friend and classmate…

The most complex was Santana, the sarcastic, bitchy former cheerleader who was Finn’s first in season 1. Yes, as an out lesbian, there seemed to be a stir of emotions revolving that memory, her nicknames, the slap in season 3, the general nastiness toward him and yet, having him come to New York to kick Brody’s ass last season.

And Will? How about that unresolved issue when Finn kissed Emma to get her to shut up over her and Will’s wedding/relationship catastrophe? That situation never had closure and I’m sure Will was ignoring that while being the rock to the glee kids.

Finally, there’s Sue. Of course, what’s an episode without any Sue-isms? I found them unnecessary, but then considered them to lighten the somber mood. This is Sue dealing with sadness. We’re made to realize that Sue is not programmed to feel emotions outside of anger, rage and the itch to seek revenge.

The most heart-warming and consistent factor that took us from season 3’s graduation to this episode is the bond between Puck and Coach Beiste. Puck’s emotions ran from denial to anger and feeling an absolute loss at living. He has always responded well to Coach Beiste’s discipline and counseling and may fare well in a setting like the military to honor his friend who was discharged after accidentally shooting himself (learned at the beginning of season 4).

At the beginning of the episode, which shows Kurt packing in New York to head back to Lima for a memorial Mr. Schuester is planning, Kurt says to himself: “Everyone wants to talk about how he died, too, but who cares? One moment in his whole life; I care more about how he lived.” I’m glad the writers decided to go in a tribute direction rather than a cautionary anti-drug tale.

Yes, let us do that. Despite the real life reason, the media hype on heroin use (which to me, can be a media topic for another day), let’s remember Cory/Finn as having real, raw talent. We should let the positives shine and not let the flaws define a person or their personality.

Thank you for sharing your talent with the world.

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