Hm. Why did I call this post "candles"? Dunno. Maybe it will come to me by the time I'm finished writing.... I feel like rambling.
So, I have a playlist on my iPod that I named after my friend's playlist on her blog-- my friend Susan, whom I have never met, lost her son four short (long, eternal, minuscule, gigantic, torturous, horrendous, heartbreaking) days after we lost Ben. His name was Will and it still kind of blows my mind how similar our lives are. Susan is an English teacher on the other side of our metropolis. She teaches 9th grade and has the heart of a poet, which you'll know if you read her blog. She finished her MAT program at Emory (alas, her only fault :)) in the last few years. And her heart is broken. I have no idea how we found each other in the fog of those early weeks, but I feel that she is a friend of my heart, though I've never seen her face and we've only connected through our written words. Survivor friendships.
Anyway, I loved the songs she had on her blog and I went and found all of them on iTunes and I named the playlist "Will's Playlist." I don't know if I've told her that.
And it's one of my favorite playlists to listen to. I've added some of my own songs to it, and I listen to it often.
Today, I asked a student to "go to Will's playlist" on my iPod and it occurred to me that I am keeping that boy's memory alive, though I never met him, just by calling out his name. I wanted my student to ask who Will was. I wanted to say, "A friend of my son's." They reached heaven around the same time-- surely God hooked them up, just like He did their mothers.
I gave my kids a writing prompt today that said, basically, "If you could change one thing, what would it be?" They listed all kinds of things. In fact, I'm still at school right now because I had to read all of them-- I had to-- and I had to comment on almost all of them (partly because they'll notice if they didn't get comments, even if they act like they don't care) because they were amazing.
Some kids said that they would change their pasts (at 14? Ah, life...). Some would change their parents' divorces. A couple of girls wrote that they would change what they had worn today :).
One boy wrote, in pencil, at the bottom of his paper,
"Mrs. Swaney, I would change that your baby died."
Oh, my heart.
I called his mom after school. We cried together for a second about how precious that was, and then my phone died and I was saved the trauma of trying to figure out how to end such an intimate phone call with a woman I do not know but whose son blessed me more deeply than he could have even known.
Sometimes freshmen drive me crazy. Other times, they make my heart all gushy and melty and I am so grateful that God created me to be a teacher.
I miss my son.
I've been thinking of all different ways that I can imagine this wreck that happened in the spring that was supposed to be full of dogwoods and roses and pollen and I think of
crushed, they release their aroma...
beaten, chiseled and scraped, it releases the shape hidden in the rock...
lit on fire, disintegrating under the heat, melting away, disappearing, only the flame survives all the way down to the bottom of the jar... releasing its fragrance until every thing is consumed.
Oh God, consume us in this fire. It's such a small fire compared to the infernos I have witnessed in the lives of others. But come and burn away the dross here in the light of this fire. Burn up the flesh and the bitterness and the fear. Keep doing miracles that I seem to only be able to see by lamplight. Kindle this fire and keep it stoked. Burn, burn, burn....