Monday, January 11, 2016

Shine A Light On Me

I spent the first 24 years of my life thinking that murder was something that happened to the outside world. It was something I heard about on the news or on Law and Order.  I never thought that it could happen within my world, in my hometown, in my St. Hugo Community. I never thought I would lose a friend to murder.

But in January 2012, I did. I lost a dear friend because she was killed. Perhaps it seems taboo for me to talk about, maybe telling people that I had a friend that died would be sufficient. But what good does that do, really? I choose to tell the truth, no matter how painful, shocking, or scary it may be.

Our St. Hugo Community was no stranger to loss. We had lost people before, all of whom were far too young. We'd lost people to cancer, heart attacks, accidents, and suicide. But never this. And it shook our entire world upside down. In the next few months to follow, we were woven together as tightly as we could possibly be. We held onto each other for support, to share tears, to vent our misunderstanding and our frustrations, to pray. It was really quite beautiful, how we became this stronger community through such a tragedy.

Now it's four years later. And while I can't speak for everyone, I know that many of us still feel the pain of that loss.  A lot can change in four years, and a lot has changed. We've all grown up, in our own ways. We've had other celebrations and other losses. Some of us have moved away.

But the very beautiful thing about this community, and perhaps because of this tragedy, is we can always come back home. My biggest connector is my mom, as she is still a teacher at the school. Through her, and her past students and the parents of those students, I'm able to have a world of loving, compassionate, dependable people right at my fingertips. In any moment of need, I know that all I have to do is reach out, and someone will step in...or at least try. I am forever grateful for my mom for this connection. I may not be as active in the church as I once was, but I know that I can walk in on any given Sunday and feel the love. I know that it will always feel like home. 

Susan was a very bright light in that home. And while I will never again see her smile or be able to have a cup of coffee with her, her light still shines. Every single person that knew her carries a little piece of her with them. She was such an influential, strong, beautiful person. I have no doubts that each of us who knew her strive to be just a little bit more like her.

To Susan, I miss you and sure wish we could talk in person. Your legacy lives on through your beautiful children and through each person who met you. May your heaven be full of coffee, shamrocks, the French language and hugs.

To everyone in the St. Hugo Community, my hope for you is that you always see the beauty, the grace, and the love that grows in abundance- and not just in the halls of the Church or the school. You don't have to be present on campus every day or even every week or month to know it's there. You can always go back home, even if it's just for a visit . I also hope for peace and protection for you and your families, and for gratitude for being such a huge part of my life, but more importantly in my mom's life.

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