Is this the week for a new baby? Praying for a peaceful, pleasant and painless delivery, Janelle. Hope to get to visit with you in Febuary and hold the precious little one. And gaggle with the rest of the group, too. Are we looking at the 21st? Maybe?
I've spent most of this weekend reflecting, thinking about how lives cross and separate and come together again. Our school has been involved in a fund-raiser for one of the students with cancer all week. We've had such a good time and the kids have jumped on the bandwagon in a wonderful way. Coin contests between the classes, with the seniors finally figuring out the 25 pennies weigh more the 1 quarter, spending $1 to wear your hat on Friday, teachers paying $2 to wear jeans, a chili supper before the home game with our nearest rivals and culminating with the shaved head of our coach because $3500 was gathered over our goal of $1000. Goody got to be there for a few minutes despite having a treatment earlier in the day that was pretty devastating on him. He accepted his checks with an enormous smile and big tears. He left the gym floor to the roar of the crowd chanting his name in support. Small town America at its best, I believe.
In horrible contrast, we also lost one of our kids that day; a former student overdosed at a party at one of the college campuses. One of my "kids", Grasshopper was the model student during high school. He worked or played in my office his junior and senior years as our aide. He provided hours of hijinks, he was a clever practical joker and big hearted clown. I gave him his nickname when he would spring up from the bench every time the coach motioned him into the game. He wasn't a natural athlete, but he had a heart as big as the gym and everyone loved it when he got playing time. I witnessed him with other in my office, sitting on the floor, crying, asking them to stop the drugging or drinking, encouraging them to be happy like him, drug-free and sane. He offered to stay by their side 24/7 in order to keep them clean, to fight off others who pressured them to use. He hated drugs and alcohol...then. I don't know what happened, when we lost him; he graduated and stopped showing up around his friends, hanging with those he had no time for in the past. He got hooked, dragged into the world of drugs and alcohol and violence. He refused to speak to his old mentors, left his family to wonder where he was, he would run if approached. It broke our hearts, but at least he was alive and that meant there was hope he could turn around, clean up and be himself again. Friday took that away; he is gone, betrayed by the comfort he sought from drugs. I don't know what to do for his Mom, his sisters, his family who I work with everyday. I don't know what to do for us all, who lost a shining star to the dark night. I am sorry, Grasshopper, sorry we couldn't save you.
I'll watch the kids on Monday, those who knew him, those who didn't but pretend to; watch them grieve and cry yet miss the real tragedy of his death. It could be them, any of them who gamble with losing control and escaping, even once. Adolescents all, they will feel the pain for themselves, for how they are affected by this loss; they won't see the bigger tragedy of anyone being so lost, so hopeless he couldn't turn to anyone for help. I dread Monday, I dread keeping myself from screaming out to them, "look, open your eyes, it will happen to you. He is gone for no good reason, it is senseless to lose someone like him or YOU." Say a prayer for us all, my friends, please.
Stay safe and warm this cold week. Give us a shout, Janelle, when Homer shows up. Love you all, Hedy