Prom and graduation are approaching fast.
It's weird and hard being in the throes of toddler parenting when I thought I would be planning a graduation party and have a house full of teenagers soaking up as much time together as possible before scattering for college.
Tim and I are ragged out and on edge. Interrupted sleep isn't helping. Thank you to An Inch of Gray readers on Facebook for the gentle advice on helping Andrew sleep past 5:12 a.m. We've had a bit of progress this week, but we're still so darn tired. "Andrew liked the, um, bread. You know, the brown kind," Tim says. "Wheat." I reply. We talk about, "that thing" and "that other thing" and do a lot of pointing because our brains are mushy.
But guess what?
Jack and Margaret's high school asked me to be a graduation speaker!
I was overwhelmed with gratitude because that means that Jack is remembered, even 5 1/2 years later. Through Jack's death, the students have learned important lessons about grief and being supportive, and I believe those lessons and their kind hearts will have positive consequences in the world. They didn't think in terms of "Dead kid, how depressing! Let's not drag down our big day by listening to his mother speak." Instead, perhaps they remembered what it was like in 7th grade to have their moms and dads stop, hug them extra tight, and give them a naked glimpse into the fierce love of a parent that goes way beyond grades, achievement, or even likability-- a sacred glimpse brought on by death of a boy just their age somewhere across town.
I thought about the offer for a few days and then declined. Yes, it would have been difficult, but I often surprise myself by doing the next hard thing that comes my way. Speaking is one of my favorite things. However, when I pictured what it would be like to go to the beautiful venue and be surrounded by happy parents and kids I've known forever, but then have to drive away alone, I decided to cut myself some slack and decline.
Would you do me a favor these next few weeks? Would you remember Jack this prom and graduation season? I know it's hard to picture him as an 18 year old, but let's try to do it anyway.
And while he doesn't get to graduate from high school and I don't graduate from missing him, there's still a place for him in the festivities, in our town, our world, and in our lives.
Love never dies.