For those of you who hail from the United States, you’re just back to work from the Thanksgiving Holiday. As a nation, we give thanks for our many freedoms and blessings during this time especially.
But I have a friend of mine who spent the holiday in deep-seated grief. And while I celebrated with my family, my heart went out to her and her family.
My friend (we’ll call her Ann) was also my assistant principal at the high school where I was an English teacher (I just retired in August). She had two sons we’ll call John and Edward.
John was the younger of the two, and I had the luck of teaching him all four years of his high school career (English, Creative Writing, Film & Literature and Yearbook). My classroom was just across the hall from Ann’s office, and every day John would go see her and give her a hug before our class session. He’d often say to me, “I’ll punch anybody who makes fun of me for going to hug my Mama.”
He was a bright spark in a sometimes otherwise uneventful day, and always had some witticism to share. For example, if a student used incorrect grammar during class discussions, I would (respectfully) correct them. John would always speak up and say, “Mrs. Lacey, thank you for helping us sound more intelligent.” He was the President of his Senior Class, a brilliant athlete, and a friend to everyone.
Just before Thanksgiving, John was driving home after a long day at work and graduate studies. He fell asleep at the wheel, went across five lanes of traffic, flipped in a ditch and his car burst into flames. Good Samaritans pulled him from the burning car, and an off-duty nurse tried to save John, but first responders said he was already gone. It was a miracle he hit no other cars, so no one else was hurt or killed.
That funeral was one of the toughest I’ve ever attended. Hundreds of people were there, for John, Edward and their family were beloved by many. Several graduates from his class stood up and said a few words, and one of his cousins sang, pausing to break down on occasion.
The toughest thing to witness was seeing John in his casket. He looked like he was simply asleep, with no outward evidence of fire or wreckage, and he was wearing his best suit. When the family processed in front of John’s casket to take their final farewells, Ann was the one to kiss him, whisper a few words, and then close the casket shut. I don’t know where she got that inner strength to do that.
One of the preachers (of which there were five, as John was a very active Christian) said in his eulogy that “Grief was love, only wounded.” He exhorted the people to cherish those you love, for they can be taken from you any minute, any second.
So this Thanksgiving I was doubly grateful for my family and for the love we share. I know that time will help ease Ann’s grief, and Edward’s loss of his only brother. So don’t wait for the “right moment,” because there often isn’t one. Take now…and show those you love how you feel about them.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I felt it was important to share.
Until next time, dear readers.