Tuesday, February 10, 2004 started like any other day at school. I was teaching Bible to high school students and thinking of things I needed to accomplish throughout the day. During my morning free period I walked through the gym to the church office to return a stapler. The secretary was on the phone. She motioned me over and held out a piece of paper for me to read. The words were simple . . . and terrible. “Math Teacher’s wife and baby--dead.” She ended her call and explained what had happened. The Math Teacher’s Wife and Infant Son had been in a serious car accident. The Wife was gone, passed through heaven’s portal and The Son was being airlifted to the area trauma center. The Senior Pastor could not be found nor could she find the Youth Pastor. She asked me to find the Youth Pastor and ask him to go to the school office. I looked in a couple of his favorite haunts before I found him.
He was in the computer lab, chatting with another teacher. Not wanting to disturb the classroom or be overheard, I whispered the news of what had happened and told him he was needed down in the school office to be with The Math Teacher. He took a deep breath and headed downstairs.
Once again we gathered the middle and high school students in the sanctuary. I remember standing at the doors, directing the students into the room. Three of our senior boys stopped me--each of them either an EMT or volunteer firefighter--they wanted to know if it was another 9/11 situation and did they need to go serve? I was so proud of those young men, so proud. I told them that no although this was serious it wasn’t another 9/11 situation and they didn’t need to go.
Our Science Teacher explained to our students what had happened. Again we spent much of the day in grief and prayer. Our Youth Pastor went to the trauma center with The Math Teacher and grief counselors from another church in the area came and met with our students. In a small school such as ours all the high school students knew the Math Teacher and many had met and bonded with his wife and son as well.
“Why? What will he do? How will he survive this? Why?” echoed over and over throughout the day.
The Math Teacher’s wife was killed instantly. His four month old son died at the trauma center a few hours later. We were a somber, sad, and mourning school. This was the beginning of a season of asking “Why?” as a school, of wondering what God was doing.
Over the next two years we walked with The Math Teacher through his grief and loss and saw him marry again. He established a scholarship at our school in memory of his son, a scholarship for a graduating senior who planned to work with children. Each year the scholarship is given out accompanied by a stuffed Winnie the Pooh, the little guy’s favorite.
What kinds of things have you established as a memorial to a lost loved one?
What would you like to establish given the opportunity?