Thursday, August 25, 2011

Six years

I guess I'm supposed to have something to say.
Something wise.
Something heartfelt.
Oh - and something new.

I don't.

I actually told someone I was going to post:
and leave it at that.

Not sure anyone wants to hear the same old things.
Especially me.

The tears most bitter
slip silently from
summer sunglasses.

Yesterday was six years since the end.
Not only the end of Dave's life on earth,
but the end of mine as I knew it.

But it also marks six years
of a new beginning.

Yesterday was also the first day of school.
And as we placed flowers on Dave's rock,
I thought about how in an hour or so,
the building behind us would come alive,
empty, echoing rooms would fill
with laughter and lecture,
with cheers and complaints,
and all the drama that is high school.

Dave loved the first day of the school year.
It's shiny and new and fairly bursting
with promise
and hope.

It's a chance to start over,
to get it right this time.
Fresh and clean.
He loved it all.

The acrid smell of just-sharpened pencils,
lined up just so.
Squeaky, too-white shoes.
A box of new crayons,
every point still defined,
neat rows, like little soldiers.
The carefully chosen outfits,
designed to look as if
the wearer didn't give it a second thought.

The empty pages of a grade book,
yet full of possibility,
not yet written.

The warm bear hugs for people he knew.
"So good to see you,
how was your summer?
How are you?"
And he really did want to know
how you were.

Smiles for new faces.
"I'm glad to know you."
And somehow, he could sound,
every time, like he'd been waiting,
just to meet you.

He gave his very best to each one.

"You know Shell,
nobody cares how much you know
until they know
how much you care."

So he found ways to care.
Loud music coming from his portable.
Louder cheering at assemblies.
Crazy assignments.
Crazier clothes.
Briefcase held together with duct tape.
Walls papered with pictures and notes.
Funny cartoons of Sheriff Joe on the white board.
Guitars and Hawaiian shirts.
A listening ear.
A place to eat lunch.
A shoulder and a kleenex.
A nudge in the right direction.

He believed in those kids.
And wanted so much for them.
And demanded so much from them.
He pushed and challenged them.
Supported and believed them.
Stood up for them.
Stood up to them.

Bev Bos tells a story of a little boy who came to preschool one day, feeling a little cranky.  She greeted him warmly, only to be rebuffed.  After a few attempts, she said, "Well, if you change your mind, I'll be right here."  And the little guy looked up at her and said, "Oh hell, Bev, you're always here."

Perceptive for four years old, eh?
Presence is key.

That was Dave.
Always here.
Fully present.
Open door.
Open heart.
Kids could count on him.

The first day of school
is a marker.
It's also a chance
to leave some things behind.

A time to re-create.
To be re-born.
To let go of mistakes.
To do better.

And you don't have to wait for the start of a new school year.
I think this is why Dave actually liked Mondays.
It's a new week.
Another new start.
Another chance.

There's a song by Casting Crowns that says:

Jesus You know just how far
The east is from the west
I don't have to see the man I've been
Come rising up in me again

In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'Cause You know just how far
The east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

Jesus casts out our sin.
We are re-born.

And on this day,
six years ago,
Dave was re-born,
into a new and perfect life.

I, too, was re-made,
into a life far less perfect.

I still have the first day of school.

And so do you.
So make a new start.
Hug somebody like you mean it.
Risk being vulnerable by caring too much.
Believe, really believe, in what seems impossible,
but you know is important.
Stand up for someone.
Cheer louder than you need to.
Forgive someone.
Forgive yourself.
Go to K-Mart, buy a box of new crayons and take a whiff.
It's a new year.
It's a new day.