Last week, I kind of ended with the morning that Dan died, so let me just go from there. After we left the hospital, we went to my aunt’s house. She fed us breakfast….I think I ate, I don’t remember that. Dan’s brother and sister-in-law were my rock that day. They, along with our pastor, went to the funeral home with me. We shouldn’t be doing this! We shouldn’t be planning Dan’s funeral! But, there we were. My poor brother-in-law, WOW, he was grieving so much the loss of his baby brother, but he was able to take over the planning process when I didn’t think that I could even breathe.
For months, I had no idea how I made it back to my house, where two of my friends spent the day making sure it was clean! My neighbor had driven my car home from the hospital….finally I asked my brother-in-law how I got home. They had brought me home. I don’t really remember what happened that night. I know that there were phone calls, messages on facebook……I tried to sleep…..
The next day the visitors came. Food came….I didn’t want that, it made it all too real!! But, I think that the best visit that day came from a teacher friend and a couple of students from the school where I teach. The week before, the students had gone through an assembly about Rachel’s Challenge. If you don’t know what that is, please look it up online as it is a GREAT program. One of the things that they learned was to react with chain reactions. Well, the kids at the school took it literally. A young lady from our school died the day before Dan and the kids were so upset about that. They took construction paper, made chain links (like some of us used to do at Christmas time) on which each contained a message to the young lady and to her family. That chain went through the entire 1,000 seat auditorium. Then, someone got the idea that I needed one, so the students did one for me, too. I was shocked and amazed!! I kept the chain in tact so my family and Dan’s family could see it. The day after Dan’s funeral one of my nephew’s measured it…..66 yards long! This picture shows my sister at the corner by my house and at the other end, you can barely see me, a niece and my nephew. Needless to say there wasn’t much construction paper left at the school after that day.
Say what you want about teenagers, but the kids at my school are very compassionate and caring young people! Every semester I have my students write a letter to a teacher who has had a positive impact on their lives, well…..the teacher that I mentioned above, sent an e-mail to all the other teachers expressing how much those letters meant and that they should do the same for me. I cannot even tell you how many letters I received. My mom said to me, “See, sweetie, I told you that they love you at that school!” Between the chains and the letters, I heard from around 1000 of the 1200 students enrolled at my school, many of whom I had never taught.
Isn’t it a great thing when people, especially young people, go out of their way to be supportive? I have said MANY times since Dan’s death, that my school took (still takes) such good care of me. Between the faculty, staff, students, parents and the church that meets there on Sundays, I was able to go back to work knowing that I was going to be embraced and not ignored.