I’m at a loss. Loss for words. Loss for thought on current events.
Have you ever struggled with something so much that you can hardly wrap your head around what is happening? Maybe you feel that way now. Maybe you are struggling with current events, life, your job, your marriage, your kids. Maybe you feel lost.
The past few days I have struggled to find words. Kind, comforting words to offer to my children as they sit quietly with their breakfast watching the news. I know I should address it, maybe even change the channel, but I’ve been at a loss. What do you say to your 10 year old who wonders why people die at a concert? What do you say to your 14 year old who looks so saddened by news stories and pictures from T.V.? How do you comfort your husband, a combat Veteran about the violence?
Do you pray? I read (something online, and sadly, probably something from a Tweet or Facebook post) that offering prayers isn’t really helpful. Do something, be angry, donate blood, don’t sit back and watch the events, the news, the reports. Make a difference.
Do you have conversations about guns? My students were quiet, they usually are before class, and then someone said, “you guys, Las Vegas.” And the one thing they all agreed on: guns are a problem. Some students were just shocked, and you know what I started thinking—how many headlines have they seen in their lifetime? Orlando, Las Vegas—do they realize that this is a “thing,” these mass shootings happen a lot. In 2015 the Las Vegas Eiffel Tower went dark to honor Paris after the tragic terrorist attacks. Paris has now honored Las Vegas as the Eiffel Tower was dark. I hadn’t thought about that until a student mentioned it.
The world is quite different from when I was 10 and 14, the ages of my kids. At those ages, I felt as if I didn’t really have a care in the world. I worried about homework, school, missing out on ice cream dates with my grandpa, and playing basketball…
Times have changed.
And during class, we had an open conversation about being safe, feeling safe…and that classroom, that is that safe space. My students took a lot of time to write today, because their teacher could hardly find words that were “good” and comforting.
What a world we live in.
After class a few students stuck around as I was packing up. One of them thanked me for the extra writing time (my students keep a writing journal) and said that it was the first time she’d had to process and think about the world around her.
Sometimes we just need the quiet space of a room and a notebook.
I started to walk out of the class and fill up a water bottle. Like my students, I grabbed my phone to check some text messages I’d missed. I went to social media (just like my students) and was hit with loss once again.
A friend lost his battle with cancer.
My stomach dropped and tears welled up…Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.
I met David at church, and at the gym.
David Perschbacher was one of my first “friends” from another school, if basketball coaches are allowed to have buddies from other schools. I met him when he was a teacher at Herrin and kept the scorebook for the Herrin Junior High Basketball team. He noticed a little girl behind the bench who kept inching closer and closer to the coach and the floor, and he struck up a conversation with her. He also noticed that very girl was clutching a puppy.
I told him we didn’t leave home without that stuffed puppy.
And a few games later, David had a new stuffed puppy for Kirsten. He even made a “dog tag” for the puppy and everything (PuppyCat)—the name stuck because he thought that small little girl who so desperately wanted to be on that court with her mom was an exact replica of her momma.
David moved to California. We kept in touch over social media. From time to time I would get a message from him. He kept me up to date on his son who serves as assistant director of Veteran Services at Northeastern Illinois University. One of his last messages to me–“My son is the assistant director of veterans services at Northeastern University in Chicago. I’m so very proud of him.”
I hope you know that, Josh. Your dad was incredibly proud of you.
David would ask about Memphis and Sam, and was very interested in service dogs.
He also wrote to me about Lift for the 22–gym memberships for Veterans, the Vetwork, a project his son was working on.
David lost his battle with cancer early this morning. My heart is heavy.
Loss. Once again.
With so much loss, sadness, and hurt, I decided to write. I’m not sure that’s making a difference, but it is helping me. I decided to remember good things, positive things. It is hard. What do you say? What do you write? What do you do?