It's no secret that I've been on an emotional rollercoaster these past few weeks. From job dissapointments and family illnesses to a beautiful wedding and fun concerts, I never know whehter I will wake up laughing or crying. The days that are hardest are the ones where I have nothing for me to do. Last week, every day was like that. Therefore, I was pretty miserable. So imagine my family's relief when I came bouncing through the door Friday evening after an incredible day.
Most of my "favorite days" are a result of something epic happening, like meeting an Idol or going to a great concert. Friday was just another pretty typical day...yet one that I will always remember. I had made the decision earlier in the week to surprise my students at Cristo Rey by attending their opening mass. I was slightly nervous about it, actually. My nerves escaped the second I walked in the church and was greeted by some of the Sister's of Mercy. I spent some time before mass chatting with them. Then, the music started and the student body began processing in- juniors first, then sophomores, and finally, the freshmen. I was on the end of the row, and every two or three kids on my side would notice me and start waving frantcilly. When I went up for communion, I heard whispers of "Miss Carolin!" wave throughout the pews. That's when the smile came on my face. It hasn't left yet.
After Mass, they lined up all the students outside in two recieving lines. They asked the guests to shake their hands and wish them luck on the school year. It was very surreal meeting the new freshmen- there are so many of them, and not one did I know! Finally I got to the sophomores- and this is where I started to feel like a celeberiy. Every single kid hugged me. I know that could be seen as inappropriate but I really couldn't help it. They all just kind of latched on to me. I got many of the same comments throughout the line "I miss you!" "Why aren't you back here?" "Please come back!". It goes on and on. I just kept smiling and hugging. A few of the students who I was really close to cried. Plus, the entire time I was on one side, the opposite side of the line kept chanting for me to get to them- so I literally had to run and do it all over again once I got to the last student on the first side. More hugs, more smiles. It was one of the most amazing feelings in the world. I mean, seriously. If you had told me a few years ago that I would have impacted the lives of teenagers in such a positive way I probably would have laughed in your face.
After the lovefest line, I stood outside the school saying goodbye and talking with staff. Took some pictures with a few students and gave "be good" lectures out. I went to lunch with some former coworkers and then we hung out at Dean's house for a while. It was absolutley perfect. I know I've made this day about me, but it's more than that. It's about those kids. Those amazing kids. Those kids changed my life. They are the most amazing individuals I have ever known, and I feel absolutley blessed that I got to be a part of their lives, even for just a short time. I'll never forget any of them. I'm so passionate about their dreams, about their LIVES. I would do just about anything to be back there with them on a daily basis. Anything.
I'd also like to say that my best friend Dean really played a large role in my happiness. Not just yesterday, but all year long. I feel like everyone needs to know Dean, or at least have someone like him in their lives. Thanks for everything, Deano. I'm so happy we're friends.
My weekend continued to be "perfect" when I participated in the Curesearch Walk for Children's Cancer this morning. I was walking in memory of Laurence. It was the perfect walking weather- a cool, crisp morning with beautiful scenery at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills. Before the walk kicked off, they invited everyone who was walking in memory of someone upfront. They gave us each a gold balloon, and after a moment of silence, had us release them into the sky. That image was beautiful. They swirled up into the clouds. I hope people got pictures, although I know pictures won't do it justice. Anyways, I got emotional...because tomorrow would have been Laurence's 16th birthday. Plus, there was a little 3 year old girl there who is a cancer survivor, and she was standing right in front of me crying. I was near the front for the walk, but ended up passing everyone and finished first! I never in my life thought THAT would happen. I think I pushed myself a little too hard, though, because my shins were killing me. That doesn't matter, though. What matters is that I had a great time walking for Laurence. During my walk (which was without music, ps), I spent that time talking to him. I wouldn't change that for anything.
So, for Laurence's 16th birthday, I wrote a little something. It's based off the gold balloons in the sky. I love you, Laurence. Happy Sweet 16.
Your heart of gold was all we could talk about
And how you were constantly pouring it out for others, selflessly
I imagine when you closed your eyes for the final time
Your golden heart broke into pieces
Swirling gracefully into the sky,
Slowly headed toward the clouds,
Which grabbed onto the pieces, tucked them away in the safest place,
the pockets of the angels whose home lies within the clouds
when the rest of us down here get stuck
Pulled into destruction, ready to give up
The angels simply drop your gold from the sky
And it comes swirling gracefully back down,
Until it finds a new home in our hearts
And we can move forward, with a little golden piece of you to keep us going