Last week our community lost a wonderful family of four to carbon monoxide poisoning. The two daughters were in 11th and 5th grades, and the schools they attended have been reeling with shock and grief.
Tonight a vigil will be held for the family on the high school football field. It has been said that anyone who wishes to speak will be given the opportunity. I’m not one for public speaking, but I do have something to say, particularly to my beloved student friends, so I’ll say it here.
A very a common question at times like this is “why”? I don’t know why. But I do know that there are lessons to be learned. I always think that I learned them long ago, but then something like this happens and I find that I never really learned them at all. Maybe this time.
1. No family is perfect. I think many of us have a tendency to look around and think that everyone else has it all together. Therefore, we’d better not let on that we don’t. The truth is that nobody has it all together. In my opinion, we need to stop being ashamed of the fact that every single one of us is a flawed human being, and ask for help when we need it. I’m not saying that we need to broadcast our issues to the world. But we do need to find just one or two people who will listen, and maybe give an honest, objective and non-judgemental perspective on whatever it is that we’re dealing with. The other side of the coin, of course, is that each of us, at times, must be willing to be the listener.
2. Live with no regrets.
Shortly after the sudden death of my son I was driving his car. I flipped down the sun visor, and a piece of paper fell out. I’m not making this up…this is what was on the paper:
If I Knew
If I knew it would be the last time that I’d see you fall asleep, I would tuck you in more tightly, and ask the Lord your soul to keep.
If I knew it would be the last time that I see you walk out the door, I would give you a hug and a kiss, and call you back for more.
If I knew it would be the last time I’d hear your voice lifted up in praise, I would videotape each action and word, so I could play them back, day after day.
If I knew it would be the last time…..
I would spare an extra minute to stop and say “I love you”, instead of assuming that you would know I do.
But surely there’s always tomorrow to make up for an oversight; and we always get a second chance to make a everything alright.
There will always be another day to say “I love you”, and certainly there’s a chance to ask, “Anything I can do?”
But just in case I might be wrong, and today is all I get, I’d like to say how much I love you, and I hope we never forget
tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old alike. And today may be the last chance you get to hold your loved ones tight.
So if you’re waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today? For if tomorrow never comes you’ll surely regret the day
You didn’t take that extra time, and you were too busy to grant someone what turned out to be their last wish.
So hold your loved ones close today and whisper in their ear….tell them how much you love them, and that you’ll always hold them dear.
Take time to say “I’m sorry”, “Please forgive me”, “Thank you”, or “It’s okay”.
And if tomorrow never comes, you’ll have no regrets about today.
Take care of each other. Ii’s not always convenient, but we were put here to help each other live.
3. taking to heart what the poem says, I just want to tell you how much the last year of being with you all has meant to me. I am continually amazed at your talent and accomplishments, but most of all, what fine young adults you are. Not perfect, and neither am I, nor any other adult you know. But you have good hearts…the most important thing of all, and I am proud to know you.