Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's funny.....

Not funny "haha", but funny "weird", "odd", "hard to describe".

My mother-in-law gave me my DH's high school class ring after we were married. DH smashed up his hand senior year in a football game and never was able to wear it again. It spent years in my jewelry box. I put it on the day they announced they were closing "our" school- the one he went to and where I taught so happily for 10 years. I wore it constantly until shortly before I started at my new school last fall.

I took the picture above yesterday. 

Last week I discovered a wonderful group- The American Soldier Memorial Project. They make hand-stitched memorials for the families of service men and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. I immediately thought that this would make a wonderful project for me for the summer. Sure, I have more WIPs (works in progress) than I can count already, but this one would have meaning.

I joined the group, and Tuesday evening I was emailing back and forth with the Pennsylvania rep about picking a name from their long list- there are way more heroes than there are stitchers volunteering. In between emails I checked my messages- and got a kick-in-the-stomach piece of news: another CD grad had died, this time in Afghanistan. John was from the class of 2009, and still only 19 years old. 

It turned into a long evening of reading messages and posts from the stunned CD community. The question, whispered before, was again asked: "Did closing us down also curse us?" It really is beginning to feel like it might be true.

At some point Tuesday night I emailed to the ASMP rep and told her to ignore all the previous emails- I now had a soldier to stitch for who was very personal to me. 

Since Tuesday night there have been newspaper and TV reports to read and watch, messages to answer and chats to try to comfort the kids. 

Next week there will be a funeral. Until then there is the sadness and the waiting.

I went to bed Tuesday night but was unable to sleep. I don't know what made me think to do it, but about 1AM I got up, went to my jewelry box, and put on the ring. It is large and heavy- a man's ring- and I am always aware of it when I wear it. I fell asleep almost immediately.

It's "just a piece of jewelry" is what anyone would say. I cannot explain. All I know is that I am again wearing "our" CD ring and somehow it has comforted me in the last few days. 

Losing Vince, age 18, to cancer in January was terrible. Losing Mark, age 19, two weeks later, to the gas explosion at which he was a first responder, was terrible. Losing John now, age 19, as a hero who died in the service of our country, is terrible.

Losing our school was an awful experience and continues to cause pain to so many. Not having a "home" as we go through these tragedies makes the pain a little worse and the grieving even more difficult. 

But I know that this wonderful community will again come through, this time for John's family and friends, and for one another. The ring reminds me that although the building may be closed, the REAL CD is in its people and their amazing spirit. As long as any of us are alive to remember and share that spirit, CD lives. And, in our memories, so do Vince and Mark and John.