I had the misfortune of attending a memorial service for a 17 year old boy today. I did not know him personally, but in a community as small as ours, that does not matter. My children knew him. Their friends and significant others knew him and the grief was felt all the way to my house.
My son in Virginia could not attend the service, so I went in his place and gave a card with money enclosed instead of flowers. Flowers are always nice, but I know that at a time like this, the money helps relieve some of the burden that lasts long after the flowers are gone. No parent wants to think about getting life insurance on their child. When something like this happens, it is a double tragedy.
The service itself was as nice as it could be, considering the theme. I sat in front of some of the boys that went to school with him and until just days ago, looked forward to his senior year with him. I didn't turn to look, but I could hear their poor little half grown man hearts breaking behind me. Tears flowed down my face. I don't know why I do that.
I was doing fine. A leak here, a drop there. I felt a little strange about the tears falling down my face, but I was dealing with it one tear at a time. Then the father stood up to say a few words about his son. My chest got tight and I could feel my head pull to the side like I do when I want someone to veer one way or another via telekinesis. I have seen this man on countless occasions at the school. I have never seen him not looking strong and proud. When he lifted his chin to the microphone the pain in his eyes and the vulnerable look on his face opened the gates and I cried several tears before he started speaking. I bit my lips and my cheeks trying to swish away my tears with mouth motions. It helped, but didn't stop them.
Then he spoke. I have heard his voice several sets of bleachers away at football games. It is a strong booming voice that makes your belly vibrate when he yells. Today his voice cracked and was barely recognizable. He gripped the hands and pieces of the children around him and hung on for dear life as we all watched his heart break before our eyes. A piece of my heart searched for a way to come out of my body and wrap itself around his heart to heal it. He doesn't even know my name. I will never forget his face.
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