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.
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|