My community has just suffered a major loss. A rising junior died suddenly of an unknown infection a week ago. He is my friend's brother. And we're all numb. Angry. Sad. Distraught. Depressed. Unsettled. Confused. Blinded. Scared. ...
For the first 5 days, I was just numb. I heard constantly about "that boy who died." At work, at Church, everywhere. My priest felt the need to preach about it EVERY. DAY. at morning Mass, and during the weekend too. My heart would twist and be wrenched every time I heard his name or saw his photograph. News cameras flooded the football game played in his honor. The newspaper startled me when someone put it on the belt at work (I'm a cashier at my second job) and his photo was on it, staring back at me. I was sad, but tears wouldn't flow. I guess God was making me save them for the past two days.
Yesterday was the wake. I got there early, expecting a mob scene. The whole school, including students, faculty, staff, parents, the like, was expected to show up. I hadn't been warned that it was an open casket. I made my way through the line, hugging friends, and chatting nervously with others. I finally got to the family, and I began to tear up. After hugging his brother, I knew I would lose it. I looked ahead, and then I saw him, laying face up. Peacefully. I knelt down beside his casket and cried, and prayed for his soul. I didn't think I would lose it, but I nearly did. I got up and looked at pictures, which didn't help. So I took a few Kleenex and went out to my car, where I could cry in privacy.
Today was harder. Much harder. I had been asked to sing with 3 other friends at his funeral. I made it up to Communion when the organist played a Canon in D and the whole congregation stood up, if not to receive communion, then to just hug and pat backs and cry. It pained me to see all of his friends, family, everyone whose lives he had touched, gather for the Eucharist, and to say goodbye to a friend. As people processed up to the priest, they laid a hand on the casket. My heart broke. I teared up, but I held it together, for the most part... Until the last songs. An instrumental version of "You've got a friend in me" from Toy Story and an impromptu version of Amazing Grace. I was crying during You've Got A Friend in me, and sobbing by Amazing Grace. I tried to continue to sing, but after my voice cracked very badly, I gave up. It was so sad thinking about his brother, my friend. And how his parents have to bury their son. How it must have felt to put a shovel-full of dirt on his casket, 6 feet under. It was hard enough for me to bury my rabbit a month ago. I can only imagine burying your SON.
And I could only think of the nevers. How he would never have the experience of touring schools, of going to Prom, of waving goodbye to his parents as they drop him off at college, of getting in a car with the back window painted "JUST MARRIED" or holding his firstborn. He would never get to play on the football team again. He would never laugh or cry with his friends. He would never win another mock trial, or another student senate election. He would never get his licence, or fill out the ever (un)joyful FAFSA. He would never ... He would never ... But I tell you now, his family loved him - they still do. And the whole student body loves him too. And the whole community loves him now. We all love him. And we miss him. And even as I write this, I shed tears again. I've been crying on and off all day. It's truly a miracle that all tissue boxes in my house aren't empty. I know the one in my room is... My eyes hurt. His mother's must be permanently red and puffy.
Finally, after a week of fear, uncertainty, sadness, depression, anger, numbness, I finally got words on paper. I finally wrote something that I wish John could read. Maybe he's reading it over my shoulder, smiling and crying along with me. Or maybe he's patting my back and saying it's okay. But if he is, I sure wish he was doing that for his brother and not me, because I don't need it nearly as much as his brother does. School starts in 2 days, and if I were his brother, I wouldn't show up to school. Not then, not ever. I'd be in mourning perpetually, for the rest of my life.
So here's what I wrote. It's not much, but it is from my heart. Words can't describe fully what a person is feeling. Just remember that.
"Somewhere tonight, a mother cries.
Somewhere, a boy mourns his brother.
Why is it always the good one who dies,
and why hadn't God chosen another?
I want to put my arms around the family
and assure them, somehow, it's alright.
But it feels like this just shouldn't be
and a brother is underground tonight.
I don't know how to console those who mourn
but how I wish they could be comforted.
I know that their hearts are ripped and torn
thinking of the little time he was afforded.
I look at pictures of a boy I barely know
and sob as I look past his face, his smile.
I can only imagine the pain, aching sorrow
as the casket was wheeled down the aisle.
We hope that, like Christ, we will all rise
it's so hard to grasp the fact that he's gone.
And as we say our final goodbye's,
we just pray that you rest in peace, John."
-Kylie P. K. Spinelli 9/4/2012
RIP JRV 8/28/12
In our hearts for eternity