Since I seem to be in the letter writing mood today...
Dear Youth Group Kids,
I know I mentioned this a few times to many of you over the course of the weekend. But I just want to say how proud I am of each of you. I have watched a lot of you grow up, strange as that may seem. And to see how strong you are, how passionate you are, and how spiritual you are, is quite a gift for me. You each have very unique talents and gifts, I encourage you to keep on sharing them with the world.
I know a lot of you are feeling pain in some way. I wish you didn't, I wish I could take it all away. But I can't. What you are experiencing now won't last forever. It will shape you, form you, mold you into the person you are supposed to be. Don't let the little things in life get to you. Enjoy life. And talk to God. He is always listening. You don't need to be in "prayer mode". Just saying thank you to Him, or "give me strength" in a moment of weakness, those are simple ways to grow and strengthen your relationship with God.
I hope you remember the things you learned over the weekend. Most importantly, I hope you remember to treat each other with kindness and respect, always. We never know what a person is feeling, just by reaching out and showing compassion will make a difference. Remember to be someones prayer.
If any of you ever need to talk, or a place to get away, or want to go for a drive, I'm game. I promise you nothing you tell me will shock me. :)
I love you all. You are more.
Dear Fr. Michael,
Thank you. Thank you for all you do for this community. Thank you for being a source of guidance and inspiration for the teens in our parish. Thank you for shining so bright. Thank you for knowing what to say, for bringing words of comfort. Thank you for being strong but also showing us it's okay to be weak. Your words today were beautiful, and your interactions with the kids this weekend were graceful and comforting. You're the best. I am so glad to be working with you each Sunday night :)
I guess it's safe to say that the youth group retreat this weekend, combined with Susan's funeral today, were pretty emotionally draining. The funeral was by far the hardest hour and 20 minutes I have ever sat through in my life. When it was over I wanted to get out of there, run home, go to sleep and not go back to retreat. But I did, because I wanted to be there for the kids. And I'm so, so glad I did because even though I was feeling pain and grieving, talking with the youth group kids made me realize a lot about who I am and what I have to offer.
I feel so blessed to be a part of the St. Hugo community. I have met incredible families, children, teens, parents, teachers, etc. When a tragedy happens, I feel it hard, because I've been through a lot with these families.
I know what I'm about to write may sound strange to some people, you may not believe it, but I felt Susan today in that Church. When Fr. Mike was reading off the words her kids had used to describe her, I felt her there. I felt her smile and couldn't help but let one out myself. At that moment I said to her "We'll take care of those babies", and I swear she answered "I know you will". And we will. Because that's what we do. We care for people. And shouldn't life just happen that way? Looking out for one another, doing favors, reaching out to someone lonely. It should be a simple act.
I'm emotionally drained and rambling, but I had to get something out there tonight. I will be grieving and processing things for a long time to come. I really appreciate every one's support...but send it the kids way. There is a fund set up for them, you can read about it and donate here: http://rochester.patch.com/articles/family-of-susan-jarrell-creates-memorial-fund-for-3-children
We'll all miss you Susan. May you rest in peace.