Talk about things happening all at once. There has been way too many deaths of friends and acquaintances. Its kind of bringing us down a notch and facing our own mortality.
Saturday we were getting ready to go to a memorial for a wonderful teacher of mine...yes, some 20+ years ago...but that is how much of an impact he made in my life. He was the choral director of the Girls Glee Club and Men's Chorus...and together...we were...The Heights Singers. When I was in it, I had the honor of being Art Chairperson. Basically it was my very first job...and he was my boss. He taught tough love....oh boy did he...if you talked during rehearsal, you'd either get a glare or he'd stop everything...embarrassed the s*** out of you and make you go out in the hallway. But he was also very dedicated to all of us. He was like a second dad while in the throws of high school...with all the problems that come from age 15-18. We'd have 2 concerts a year...maybe a musical...and tour (we went to Ottawa Canada, Boston, and...oh, see...my old age showed up. I cant think of the third place we went during the 3 years I was in it)during Spring break. It wasn't even a thought that we wouldn't be in "The Heights Singers", because all of my older siblings were in it while they were in school...it was only natural that my twin sister and I would follow in their footsteps. It was something that we grew up knowing and wanting. Going to their concerts and thinking...wow...how can one man direct 150-200+ people to sing perfectly together...and also do some dance moves...it was much more than a regular high school choral performance...it was magic that they created! See, The Heights Singers were so important in my life, that my entire high school years were all about Singers...all my friends were in Singers...so with today's technology, I reconnected with most of them...LOVE IT! So after hearing of his passing on Facebook, I just knew that I was going to be there to let him and his family know how important he was in my life. I knew I wanted to bring my kids to see how important...even after all these years...a teacher could be. So with that...we all went...and it was beautiful. There were so many people there. Many of which were his students...he directed for 30 years...that's 30 years of 200+ kids! Those that could make it were there...and what we did was perfect for Mr. Thomas. At the end of each spring concert, we'd all sing Let It Be Me...by running out into the audience and he'd ask all of the alumni to please stand with the Singers and sing with us...so there you'd have an entire auditorium circled with singers, old and new, singing this song that grew on each and every one of us. It had meaning to all of us...and after all these years...it still has meaning. Thank you Mr. Thomas for everything you have taught me. For the most wonderful (and some not so) memories of my high school years. I strongly feel that without Mr. Thomas and the Heights Singers, I wouldn't be who I am today. He/they were high school for me. I can only hope that Mr. Thomas was watching and that he understood what an impact he had on thousands of kids that he taught. The memorial was such an uplifting one...one that honored and celebrated the life of a man...not his death.
So, as we were getting ready for that, my husband got a call from a friend/coworker that his friend/mentor passed away. WHAT?! Can this really be happening?! This man was the nicest, most sincere person we know. He helped us out when we needed help (the dryer), he and his wife would come over around Christmas and give the kids presents. And he was just such a great friend and mentor to my husband. My husband feels so bad because he was going to call him and ask him to lunch...and never had the chance. He was very special to us and will be deeply missed.
So this week, we will be saying goodbye to him as well.
And the week before that, my husbands other friend died from pancreatic cancer...at age 46. Last month, another friend passed...he was older gentleman who lived a long and fulfilling life...but still...he too was a good friend and one that would be there for you if you needed something.
My heart is heavy with all of these passings, illnesses and bad news. I know in my heart that they are watching over all of us and one day, we'll see each other again but in the meantime...they had all better be looking after our Nick up there, in Heaven, and keeping an eye on everyone that misses them. We need to celebrate the lives of those we lost. We need to live each life to the fullest....helping those we can help, talking and listening to those that need a friend...go beyond and out of your way to make others happy...because you just never know when your last breath on this earth will be...when the Lord will call you Home.
I feel that all of these trials are really making me closer to God...with just that much more understanding towards what really matters in life. Family, friends, love, laughter, helping others, following your passions and showing compassion and understanding....
We will forever miss you all that have passed away...thank you for the great memories and friendships!
God is amazing and will never leave us.