We were given a profound gift last night in our community meeting. After days of agony as we struggle to come to terms with the terrible loss of a friend, classmate, daughter, sister, lacrosse player and so much more - we were told the absolute truth of our communal loss from her beloved aunt (uncle and cousin also came as a show of support for this extraordinary moment) - our beautiful young woman suicided.
To hear these words directly from a family member was a powerful statement. To grieve, the truth must be spoken. To find a path through (never ever to move on, a path THROUGH), our hearts have to that starting point. We cannot grieve without truth. Nor can we in the days and weeks to come properly consider how we failed this young woman, without truth.
My deepest condolences and respect to the Virgile-Mayers family at this time. Your gesture to think of the rest of your community at such a time is one of the most radical love. We must work to honor that gesture now.
Last night I watched a program (Independent Lens) about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. I considered not watching it, too. But I thought that I might learn something to help those that I help. So I watched.
The program chose to focus on those exquisite children (twenty of them) and their lives, also the six teachers/adults that were murdered. I felt filled with light looking at those darling jack-o-lanterny six and seven year old smiles, riding bikes, opening gifts, blowing out candles. I gave those children and their families one of the few gifts I can offer - my complete and undivided attention. It's so very little I have to give.
I realized this morning the other gift I have to offer those babies and their community - my promise to try as hard as I can to be the absolute best version of myself. The world needs each of us, now more than ever, to be our most perfect selves. If we commit to drill down more deeply into our own humanity, and mine it every single day, we might just have something.
A few weeks ago I heard a beautiful (true) story on the radio about a man who set sail at age 70 to sail the world. His beloved wife of fifty years had recently died and he decided to translate his life entirely. He sold everything he owned, purchased a sailboat and named it The Betty Ann after his now deceased wife. He invited friends and family all over the world to join him for a while when it suited, and they did. He sailed The Betty Ann for thirteen self described wonderful years.
There is so much I love about this story, but I think chief among those threads is the idea that this gentleman took the wonderful life he and his wife had shared and transformed its meaning into something newly rich and beautiful. He both honored her and further invested in the life they shared together while creating something new.
This afternoon, I was honored to attend a Chinese New Year Celebration. My 17 year old son is a tutor in a program in which the 70-plus year old students have all recently come to this country from China. The students' respect for their "little teachers" and their open desire to please them was palpable. In return, the tutors' respect for their students' hard working natures and lifetimes of experience could also be clearly felt.
It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I felt joy and reverence for my good fortune in bearing witness to such love. It cannot be taken from me. Connectivity between generations, and love and appreciation between cultures, is an antidote to grief. It cannot be taken from us.