Of course I did.

Today I am supposed to be doing my last installment in five for ten and write about "yes". And this is not at all the post I intended. But life sometimes doesn't take the turns we want it to. And yesterday a teacher friend of mine called and told me about a memorial service for one of my former studetns and asked if maybe I would consider saying something. And keep in mind, that as a teacher, I pretty much speak to groups of people all day for a living. But. If I have to say something serious and heartfealt, even to an audience of one, I usually get all mumbly and stare at my shoes and forget what I was going to say. Even though I love this kid....and will miss him terribly I have a hard time imaging myslef on stage talking to an auditorium filled with grief stricken friends and family. I texted another friend about my reservations. And she knows all too well my mumbly shoe staring state.

And she replied, "Did you say yes?"

Did which I typed back. "of course I did"
And so tonight, if I make it up on the stage and stare out my feet...hopefully this is what will come out.

When Mrs. Brooke called to tell me about the memorial service.
She encouraged me to get up and speak.
To tell a funny story about Hunter and Mickey and friends cutting up.
She hoped I could say something funny and warm and make us all feel a little bit more comfortable.
And I have plenty of those stories. Like maybe the time they “borrowed” a bunch of NHS shirts and boldly wore them to school the next day. I secretly thought it was funny – even if I did have to write them up for it.
But to be honest. I’m not really feeling funny or warm or comfortable.

Sometimes you get a voice message.
And you know.
That whatever they didn’t tell you is going to be bad.
That after you call them back it will be part of the after.

The after.
The now that you know.

And I called back.
Most of you got the same phone call on Sunday.
And this is the after.

And I have been here before.
I have lost students before.
But this time it feels worse.
This loss I feel the most.
I liked Hunter the best.
His intensity and the way easy way he loved and stuck up for his sister.

And I hate days like this.
Where I want to puke.
And drain a bottle of wine.
And be angry and cuss.
Which maybe aren’t things I should say in front of a roomful of my old students.
But these aren’t the times to pretend or follow protocol.
And I suddenly wish that I worked at Starbucks or in an office or a old folks home.
Anywhere where my students don’t die.

It is an ugly feeling to sit at the memorial service of a kid.
One of mine. That sat in my desks in my room.
A kid who was tardy and smart and made me laugh.
Who managed to find a way to skip class even when his dad was the principal.

I've been a teacher for 10 years and I’ve been to a lot of funerals, and memorial services and visitations.
I think it is part of the job description.
And it never gets easier.
And I doubt God every time I sit on those hard pews.
That he is good.
That he is even paying attention.

And so this wasn’t funny. Or warm. Or inviting.
Because I feel just like you do.
Sad and empty and angry.
And full of doubt.
But all I know to do is pray, anyways
That it will get easier.
Especially for his family.
The one that he was born into and the ones he chose. His closest friends.

And I am grateful that the God we serve is big enough for our anger and doubt and even our greif that feels like a tight ball in the pit our my stomach.
And He knows what it is like to lose a son. Which is a grief so big and huge that I can not fathom it.
And so I ask that you pray. Even if you are doubting. Especially if you are doubting.
Like me.
That He will make something mysteriously beautiful out of this miserable time.
And the he will allow you to carry, some of this grief , as much as you can, for his family.
So that maybe their burden will be just a little bit lighter.
And certainly not one they carry alone.


Stacia said...

Of course you did. And even if you get mumbly, Hunter's family and friends will be so appreciative to you for speaking for him and about him. I, too, know the "after," and it's never easy. Good luck, and don't forget to take time for yourself to grieve.

Stacia @ Fluffy Bunnies

mommaof3 said...

This is beautiful. It made me cry. You are a blessing.

ShannonL said...

Absolutely beautiful. What a wonderful tribute to him and an important message to the people in the pews, too. Even if you are mumbly or look at your shoes, everyone will appreciate these words, regardless. Good luck and take care.

Corinne said...

I never even thought about that aspect of being a teacher.
There were a few tears shed over here while reading... I'll keep his family in my thoughts.

AmommymousBlogger said...

Beautiful and honest in a way that must have surely provided comfort to those there and definitely honored the ones that passed. I'm sorry for your loss.

samskat said...

CHills and tears here...I'll be praying for all of you. I'm sorry.

kirsten said...

oh wow. Of course you said yes - because saying no would keep all of those people from hearing honest, heart/gut feelings that would move them a teeny tiny bit towards healing, that night.

What a beautiful, beautiful post. Just... tremendous.

ck said...

I wish I had words to share in response to this post, but I don't because I'm crying. I don't usually cry after reading posts, especially when I don't know the writer or the subject, but I am so moved by your words. As I'm sure everyone else was who was present last night to hear you speak.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Michelle, I'm so sorry to hear the news about your student. I am a teacher too and, though I've never had to do anything as brave and wrenching as you did for Hunter's family, I relate to the connection you clearly feel for this young man. You and his community of family and friends will be in my thoughts.

SoccerMom said...

What a sad call to receive. Of course you said yes.

What a great person you are to say such kind words.

great choice for a post on yes.

Hello! I'm Kate. said...

This was really awesome-I'm crying. What an Honor to Hunter, to his family, & to his friends. I'll keep them all in my prayers.

natalie said...

I am so, so sorry.

I am crying with you and praying with you, and Hunter's family.

Sarah said...

I've been staring at the comment box for several minutes now. I don't even feel equipped to respond. I've been there. At a service. Speaking at the podium. And it's surreal. Just absolutely surreal. But, like you, I said "of course." And I did it. And I hope I never have to do it again.

Thank you for such heartfelt words. And for sharing what was in your heart.