Thursday, May 28, 2015

Character Challenge...

I'm not going to lie to you, the month of May has sucked.  I can even tell you the date the month began sucking for me, May 6th.  That is the day that all hell broke loose, and an attack on my character began.

I've never really had to defend who I am.  My character has usually spoken for itself.  Sure, I have made my share of mistakes, but I typically own up to those mistakes.  In this instance, I didn't do anything wrong, but my word meant nothing, length of time served meant nothing, who I was meant nothing.  Fortunately, I had allies, who found out my character was being attacked and came to my defense, which unfortunately also put them in the hot seat.  Never have I been in the office so many times in 1 month having to defend myself.  I will admit, I lost my temper on multiple times.  I did not always display a good Christian mouth (in fact mom, you probably would have put soap in my mouth one of the times- but I did apologize later for my language use), but I fought for what was right, and when it finally came down to what was right, it was found in my favor (it took the entire month, but I did come out on top).

Now here's the one thing I am struggling with: forgiveness.  I know that I need to forgive the person who caused this in the first place.  I don't want to.  Not yet.  I'm so angry that I had to go through almost 4 weeks of daily battles, that I'm not ready to forgive her.  I need to though, but it's hard to forgive someone when they don't feel any remorse for what they have done to you.

Matthew West has a song, "Forgiveness", and the lyrics are so true to everything that I am feeling towards this person right now.

It is definitely something I will be working on and praying for this summer, that God can help me soften my heart so that I can forgive this person who hurt me like this, especially since I have to work very closely with them in the fall.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sean McGrail...

Numb.  I am still numb.  Tomorrow, I attend your wake and Tuesday, your funeral.  It is hard for me to believe that you are gone, and yet you are.  I have cried so many tears in the last 2 weeks, and still I grieve for you, for your family, for your mom.

Your accident happened on May 1st, and I found out on May 3rd.  Our family immediately began to pray for you.  We share a friend, Stephanie, who encouraged me to go visit you in the hospital, and on Tuesday, I made my first visit.

Your mom welcomed me with a hug and thanked me for coming.  She took me by the hand and as she led me down the hall to see you, her first question was: "How is your daughter doing?"  I almost began to cry right then, because that was always your first question to me.  "How is your daughter doing? I'm praying for her," you would say those words every time you saw me.  You got your compassion and kindness from your mom.  We went into your room, you were all bandaged up, bruised, connected to monitors.  I took your hand and spoke to you.  In our last email exchange, I had promised to take you out to lunch once school was out, and I reminded you of that promise.  Your mom and I talked about you, she shared stories about you and I shared stories about you in class- your sense of humor, how you loved to listen to The Beatles.  After our visit, I promised your mom I would come back again.

I didn't get a chance to make it back to the hospital again until Mother's Day.  Things had changed by then.  You had developed pnuemonia and a blood infection.  You had had an MRI and the results were not good.  On the outside, you were looking more like Sean, but on the inside you were fighting the battle of your life.  I held your hand again and spoke to you.  One of your friends had come at the same time as me and the 2 of us shared stories with your mom about you.  I had spent all weekend looking through pictures for a certain picture I had taken of a drawing you had made on the board, so I could show it to your mom while I told her the story:  The year I had you, my co-teacher, Lisa Jett, was on a rant about someone being disrespectful in the classroom.  To lighten the mood while she was still on her rant, you got up out of your seat, went to the board and drew a picture.  When you were done, I burst out laughing.  Jett stopped mid-rant, and looked at the picture.  You looked right at her and said, "let's bring it in for a group hug now", walked over to her and gave her a giant bear hug.  The two of us laughed so hard we cried that day.  You were good at making us laugh when we needed to.  At the end of my visit, I promised your mom I would come back again.

At school the next day, I was searching through a folder, and I stumbled upon an essay you wrote your senior year for your English class.  Your English teacher had given it to me, and God had me find it that day because He knew I needed some comfort.

The last time I visited you was on Wednesday, May 13.  When I got to the hospital, I knew something had changed because I was asked for a pass code, and I didn't know it.  I had brought a small gift for you and your mom, but I had to leave it at the desk with a note.  I messaged Stephanie and she told me the code and a minute later I was messaged again by someone who had brought my gift to your mom and she had asked them to get me back.  I went back to the hospital, and as I got off the elevator, I knew something was wrong.  I caught some words being said to your mom and then she walked over to your dad and collapsed into tears on the floor.  I turned to leave, but she asked me to say.

Your mom gave me a hug and thanked me for coming.  As we walked down the hall to see you, she said to me: "it shouldn't have been 1994-2015" and the two of us cried together outside of your room.  We went in to see you, Shannon and Maggie were on either side of you holding your hands and talking to you.  I held your hand, I kissed your arm and told you I loved you before I left your room.  I gave your dad a hug and told him how sorry I was, I hugged your mom and told her how much I loved your family.  They shared pictures of you with me, pictures of when you were little, before I knew you.  Your mom showed me the letter you had just received from the head coach of Notre Dame, telling you he was praying for you.  Before I left, I promised your mom I would get your football jersey's from South for her.

On Thursday, Stephanie messaged me to start praying and to keep praying.  I prayed and prayed, and so did my family.  When I got the message that you were at peace in the arms of Jesus, I went into the bathroom and cried. I cried for your mom and dad and brother and sisters.

Seany, you were one of the kindest, compassionate, unselfish kids I have ever had in my classroom.  Your last act on this Earth was to donate your organs so that someone else could continue living.  I am so proud and blessed to have known you.  On Friday, when I picked up your football jerseys, I clutched them to my chest and walked into my classroom.  One of my students who is autistic asked me what I was carrying.  I explained, and he said: "He sounded like a really cool kid. I bet he would have been my friend."  I said to him, "You wouldn't have to bet.  He would have been your friend."

I have been a teacher for 14 years.  In those 14 years, I have lost 4 students.  This is the one thing they don't prepare you for.

Sean, you were one of my favorite students of all times.  You will always have a piece of my heart.
Sean McGrail 1994-2015