Monday, June 20, 2011

A Heavy Heart

Today I prepare to attend a funeral. I have been to my fair share of funerals-I've lost my family members and loved ones. My family owns a funeral home, so funerals have always been a part of my life. Today's funeral, however, is not the norm. I don't know how I'm going to get through this. It's a type of funeral I've never attended before. This one is for a student.

Our school district is a bit strange. We graduate our seniors before the school year is technically over. Graduation was on Sunday, and the rest of us went back to school on Monday to finish out exams. Tuesday morning there was a terrible 4 car accident, caused by reckless driving and not paying attention. My dear student and her grandmother unfortunately paid the ultimate sacrifice for other people's careless behavior.

This student was such a lovely young lady. I know people say that all the time about untimely losses, but she truly was remarkable. She had the most brilliant smile, which she generously handed out. Last year, I coached her in the role of "The Bluebird of Happiness" for the ballet The Sleeping Beauty. It was quite the perfect role. She was bright-an active member of the National Honor Society and our own National Dance Honor Society-and was excited to start college with a full academic scholarship. She wanted to be a NICU doctor, a job that is dear to my heart after my nephew's troubles.

I truly have been through the 7 stages of grief: shock, guilt, anger, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction, and hope. What they don't tell you about those stages is they are not linear, and you can revert back at any time. I know there is no sense in asking why, and one moment I accept the situation, while the next moment I am angry again.

The visitation was yesterday, which I attended with several other teachers. I was relieved to see some of our other students there...It has broken my heart that since this happened when many students were exempt from exams or had completed their class requirements for me, we haven't been able to grieve as a program. 

The funny thing about this type of death is you recall all the similar ones you've experienced in your lifetime. When I was a senior, we lost a class mate in a single car accident. I wasn't close to him, but certainly knew him. It was the first time I had experienced an unexpected loss. A few years ago, a friend I had danced with while in high school was killed in another accident-with some speculation she was texting while driving. We had grown apart, but the news upset me so much I couldn't stay at work. My sophomore year of college, there was a horrible collision on the interstate next to the school, one that killed a freshman dance major and seriously injured another. I didn't know either well at the time, but the injured one recovered well, and even danced in my senior project 2 years later. The one that bothers me the most was a dear friend from high school who passed also when I was in my sophomore year. My spring break was a week prior to his...I was in tech week hell for a show when he passed and could not make it home for the services. To this day, I still regret not being able to say good bye and mourn with my high school friends. Sometimes I forget he's not with us any more.

We all experience death. None are easy, but please God, give me the strength to get through today. Help me to heal from this sorrow, and please be with the family that is left behind.

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