It has been a very hectic week, and I have been struggling between emotions.
On one hand, I was a very proud mother whose youngest daughter prepared and received her First Holy Communion. As a Catholic, this sacrament to me is as important as Baptism. It is when the child actually feels that she has purpose, that she is a true member of the Catholic Church, and that she can fully participate in the mass. Lizzie had been looking forward to this event the entire year. She had participated in all of the appropriate religious study and examined her personal relationship with God. Within the last month, we purchases a beautiful white gown and anticipated her “big day.” Lizzie counted down the days until she would feel like a full-fledged member of the Catholic Church.
We went to Communion practice on Wednesday, and I could not help but feel delighted for her. In addition to the mass, she anticipated her cousins and aunt, her sisters and friends all being in attendance. However, something tragic happened that made me somewhat maudlin, even in the midst of Lizzie’s excitement about becoming “more adult.” A student that attended the high school I teach at was involved in a hit and run accident Thursday night; he was killed on impact. After the student’s identity was confirmed by police, Our principal informed the entire student body and teaching staff about this tragic event early in the afternoon on Friday. I did not know the young man, but I could not help but well up with tears when I heard the news.
Right after the announcement, doors started opening from different classrooms and students poured into the halls to empathize with one another. Girls and boys alike stood together shedding tears, crying over the loss of a friend. Watching their grief made me disconsolate. Sixteen years old, M____ was taken from this earth– so young, so much potential. His life was extinguished before it even had a chance to start.
Saturday morning, while Lizzie beamed, I could not help but think of M___’s family. While I sat and watched my daughter accomplish a goal she had worked for all year, while I watched her and the other second graders sing “I have decided to follow Jesus,” while I looked at my family and friends who gathered at church to celebrate Lizzie’s special day with her; I could not help but think that somewhere across town a family was mourning; a family was talking about planning calling hours and a wake; a family was thinking about all of the things they had dreamed would happen in the future with their son, their brother, and their cousin; but instead of looking toward the future, they were pining for the present, probably wishing they had told him more how much he meant to them.
I prayed for him. I prayed for his family. I thanked God for all of those present in my life who are important to me. I vowed to be more vigilant in telling the people that matter how much they matter. I vowed to be more conscientious and make people understand how special they truly are. I vowed that I would shower those important to me with love because I don’t want to ever regret not saying, “I love you.”