On September 21st our small community was rocked by the death of a 12 year old boy in freak accident at his home. He was the same age as my youngest son and my son was supposed to be on the same hockey team as this child (we had turned down the position and went with another team). My son's team and his team are still closely linked.
His funeral was Thursday.
Being in special education, this wasn't the first funeral for a child that I had been to. Often our students are medically fragile, are more susceptible to viruses or pneumonia, or just don't have a very long life expectancy. Since I started teaching 25 years ago, I think I've lost 30. I imagine them running through the Pearly Gates with legs that now work, and voices that now sing. Their souls free from bodies that kept them in pain and prevented them experiencing everything they wanted to.
This was different.
This shouldn't have happened.
This was a freak accident that on any other day, would have turned out differently.
So as a team, we went to the funeral. They wore their jerseys over their suits.
My children had never been to a funeral before, let alone, one for a friend. Neither had any of the children on his team. They served popcorn for the children and they could pick up a bag as we entered the big gym attached to the arena. It seemed fitting to be held at the arena. I mean, that's where we spend 90% of our free time.
They had photo slide shows. My son was in several pictures as they played on the same team a few years back. His coach spoke, his teacher from last year spoke, and finally the family spoke with stories and happy memories. The senselessness of the situation could not be missed but the Reverend who spoke emphasized to the children that life must go on and they can't be afraid that the same thing will happen to them.
There were lots of tears.
There were lots of laughs.
His hockey number is now being retired and it has been painted into the ice on pad 1. The organization had stickers made up with his name and number that all the players will wear on their helmets.
This is something that the children will never forget. This is something that I will never forget.
Tonight give your children an extra hug and tell them that you love them.