Sad News: Updated
A few days ago, as I was driving to work in the morning, I heard the news of a random shooting in Milwaukee, about 90 minutes to the east of Madison. It seems a sandwich delivery man had been shot four times when attempting to return to his truck after making a drop off, in a "not bad" neighborhood of the city. His death made the 87th murder this year in Milwaukee. The story was replayed time and time again, and as I listened each time, I just couldn't understand why it happened. It just didn't make sense--it was just a random act of violence.
Then, his name was released. Joseph Munz, 21, of Lodi.
Joe used to play trumpet in my band at St. Michael's School in Dane, back in 1999-2000, when we first came to Wisconsin. I taught at St. Michael's for one year, and in that time got to know and care about the 29 students who made up the K-8 school.
They say the good die young, that God sometimes takes the good ones to heaven early. With this one, it is so very unfortunately true. Joe was one of those kids you always remember--quiet, well-behaved, prepared, honest, kind, trustworthy--someone you would describe as "salt of the earth". He was one of the kids I would have trusted to babysit my own kids, had I had any at the time. (This is saying a lot--we middle school teachers see kids at their best and worst!) I knew he was a special soul, even then. He was one of the rare ones that just never seemed to have a nasty bone is his body. His family was the kindest, most patient and loving that I had met, and I considered him to be a very special and lucky young man. He was from a large family, and had many brothers and sisters who also lived in the area. He was looking forward to playing football at Lodi High School when he left St. Mike's, but he always remained grounded and faithful to his life where he was. I remember him as a sort of leader at the tiny school, carrying the statue of the Virgin during May Crowning, followed by all the younger students, who looked up to him, as someone they wanted to be like, an example of what it meant to live your life the right way.
One day, as I left my other school for my lunch-time drive to Dane (through curvy back roads, hills, highways, farms and tiny towns), I was a bit behind. I knew I would be late, but couldn't get cell phone reception, so I just plowed ahead as best I could.
When I arrived, Joe was waiting, with a teasing look in his eye. He smiled, and said, "You're late!"
"I know. There was an accident, on the Beltline Highway. It really slowed things down. Looked bad; the car was on fire. I don't know if the driver was OK or not."
"Oh," he answered, and his face fell. "I'm really sorry," he whispered.
I knew that Joe would pray for those people that day. He was just that kind of kid.
Joe's funeral is today. I had planned to attend, to drive those curvy back roads again. I just wanted to let his family know, and the nuns at the school, that Joe had touched many lives, and that he would always be remembered.
Unfortunately, something stepped in and prevented it--last night, the "popping" of my knee happened again, as I jumped from the car to run to the guy in front of us at the stop sign, to let him know he had lost a hub cap. This time, though, it didn't go back in. We went to the ER, and the doctor thought I had probably torn my meniscus repeatedly,though he wasn't exactly sure, but the damage was worse than before. The previous times, he said it had probably been able to sort of reset itself on the tear, but that this time the cartiledge just couldn't reset. My knee is very, very sore, I am on crutches again, and here I sit, a prisoner in my own home. Thankfully, Dr. B is an angel, and is taking care of everything for me. I am thankful that he has the flexibility in his work to set his hours and be available when I need him. He'll likely be driving me to work for a while, because the clutch is not something I can handle right now. I'll see an orthopedic doctor this week, and surgery may be in my future.
But, I do consider myself very lucky, as friends of mine are going through something so very much worse that just my knee.
So if you're so inclined, I would thank you to add Joe's family and friends, and my dear friend, Vivi, to your growing list of prayers/positive healing energy/holding in the light. This world can use all the positive energy it can get right now. Thank you.
(* Photo from The Milwaukee Channel,
They got him, and he confessed.
I hope now Joe and his family have found a small measure of peace.
What an incredible waste of two young men's lives.