“At the end of the day, all you need is hope and strength. Hope that it will get better, and strength to hold on until it does.” -Unknown
This week something happened that left me speechless. It wrecked me a little if I’m being honest, because it forced me to confront something that I usually choose not to … loss. A few years ago I had a “golden class” of kids. It wasn’t that they were the most advanced, or the greatest at anything in particular … it was just that the chemistry they had with one another and with me made us so much more than a teacher and her bunch of students – it made us a family, raw and real. I’ve only ever had one other class that affected me the same way, and that was my second year of teaching.
Needless to say, when they happen, those “perfect” years, you don’t take them for granted for a day in the life of curriculum. When you need to stop class to talk about life and the love, and the joy, and the pain of it, you do. We had many of those conversations. There wasn’t a topic we didn’t cover … politics, war, love, hope, faith, future, life, and death. To this day, those two classes have been the ones to keep in contact with me. From texts, emails, and phone calls, to lunches, emergency ice-cream stops, and coffee breaks. The hardest thing, is when that life and that future we dreamed comes crashing to a halt I can’t step into. They’re not with me day in and day out and I can’t be there the way I wish I could or want to be.
Two days ago I found out that one of these “golden” ones lost her brother. He was 17, a varsity swimmer, Christian youth group leader, star student, family focused … a true all American dream. His heart just stopped. And with it, I assume his family’s did as well. I thank God that they know Him … it has to be a sort of a comfort, the only comfort I would guess. Still, for all the words and the wisdom and the grand conversations we had, I don’t think I ever prepared them enough for this. For the grittiest parts of life – the end of it.
I asked my kids to pray for their family. I told them that mommy would be absolutely never okay again if anything happened to either one of them. My son asked me then, “What if you lost only one of us mom … would you be half-okay?”
How can you answer that? How can this mother live it? It took me two days to reach out to the family … to my student. I couldn’t find the words, and I’m still not sure I used the right ones, but saying something in the midst of it all seemed the best way to go. Sometimes I think that when things are the hardest, the most important thing is just showing up.
I’ve heard that the holidays can be painful for a great deal of people. They bring up and out memories that might do better to stay in the past, but still … we celebrate and we smile. So if this is you – if you’re just “showing up” because people expect you to, because you said you would, that might be enough. God has a way of putting the right people in your way at the right time, and whether you’re the one hurting, or you’re the one helping … I really think that’s the point of it all. Of this journey. Of this life. You might only be half-okay, but you know what? Half might just be enough to carry you back to whole.
Wishing you all the hope in the world,