I was searching YouTube for some general Sonic pictures in preparation for a blog post I wanted to do. They were mostly Sonic & Mario pictures, but I'll get to that later. I came across this picture of Sonic holding a Wiimote and Mario standing next to him; the quintessential game industry rivals.
But they're not who I want to talk about now. No, I want to talk about little boy named Hunter Addison Vongphrachanh, a talented hardcore videogamer and avid fan of the Italian plumber in blue overalls (and quite a lady's man, too!). He was born in the year 2000 to Tamara Vongphrachanh and a loving family with two siblings, Casey and Alexis (I don't think the father's name was listed). He was the cutest little lady's man this side of the US, and when he wasn't whispering sweet-nothings into the ears of captive chicas, he was beating 15-year old kids at videogames. Yeah. If you can't guess from the picture, he's six years old in that. He was five when he achieved victory. What a champ.
Hunter passed away four years ago under undisclosed circumstances. His mother made a memorial page for her beloved son, and many friends and family contributed to the page their condolences and images representing what he loved best: Mario, Sonic, videogames, and Dr. Thunder cola. Man, with a name like that, I'd drink it. Dr. Thunder sounds so much more awesome than that Dr. Pepper junk.
Normally I would've went my way looking for other images, but I decided to stop and read the page on a whim, and much of what I read simply touched my heart. I'm just a young guy going to college, relaxing at home when I'm not studying, and spending most of my time talking with people on the internet about mostly trivial stuff, but stuff I love nonetheless. Other times I'm working out, playing videogames, or making pizza with my brother on the weekends. I spend most of my time at home, and I'm no saint, not really religious, and not exactly the best guy around; no one special. But all I had to do was stop for a moment to develop a soft spot for this kid and their family's horrible loss. I can only barely imagine the pain they've had to suffer, but I know if it happened to me, I would never be the same.
What really got me were the mother's poems, and they remind me of my own mother and how much she cares about me and my brother. They're a clear, honest expression of how she can never be happy without her son. A parent should never have to suffer the death of their children. That is the most crushing sorrow a human being can experience, and my heart goes out to her and her family. There's nothing anyone can say to comfort her except that we hear her grief and that we're with her. She's not alone, and neither is her family.
Now, why I am posting this here of all places? Make no mistake, I'm not doing this as some sort of high-and-mighty display of piety meant to shame everyone who dared going looking on the internet for stuff about videogames or Sonic the Hedgehog. That would be asinine and annoying. Rather, I'm doing this because I simply happened to find the page by blind chance, and so I wanted to write about it. If anything more than that, it's to appeal to everyone's empathic side for a moment, putting aside things we normally gripe about or take for granted, like every single petty rant, diatribe, and flame war that's been had over characters like Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario, Star Fox, and Master Chief over the many years that have passed. The people we argue with, agree with, ridicule, hate, love, or simply can't stand are as much people doing the same thing you're doing: spending time on the internet talking about what you want to or engaging in sporty debate. More to the point, some of those people, no matter how much they get on your nerves, are probably kids like Hunter.
Well, ok, frankly I'd put Hunter a step higher judging from his memorial page information. Some kids are just spoiled rotten, and even I've been guilty of that behavior sometimes. Embarrassing.
So, all I'm asking is that you take some time to think about your own parents, your siblings, and all those kids that are "ruining Sonic the Hedgehog", and remember Hunter. It won't make people stop debating or arguing, but then that was never my intention in the first place. Free speech is everyone's right, and a powerful tool of communication. I just thought I'd use it at least once to acknowledge this family and encourage other people to offer their condolences and keep this kid's family in their minds and hearts, as well as others who've suffered like they have. Thanks for the time, guys, and stay tuned for more Sonic news and news-musings in the future. Peace.
Here's the memorial page: http://hunter-vongphrachanh.memory-of.com/About.aspx
PS: Sorry if I bummed you guys out, but that's life. Stay tuned for more enjoyable buffoonery as the story of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 develops.