Today, I am not sure how to explain this, and I am not sure I will be able to, so I will just lay the events out and the cards will fall where they may.
I couldn’t sleep last night for anything, tossing, turning, agh. One of those nights. As I woke to grab the first thing I could lay hands on, I realized walking to the metro I was wearing my coaches jersey, and today was the first day of Cross Country practice! Whether they knew it or not, I missed them deeply and was connecting with them unconsciously, I was glad I had chose that shirt today in silent support of them miles and miles away! I hope the first day will set the tone for XC in the first days of school in Seaford.
In coming to the school early, there is always that sense of peacefulness and solitude being one the first in the building, it always calms me. As I walked past the library I stopped in my tracks. I focused on a picture of an ASF colleague that had passed away suddenly. This hit me so hard as I had received an email over the weekend alerting staff of this, however, I was sure that the email was concerning a distant relative of someone in the school, not someone directly that I had met. Then I realized that I had met this colleague in the orientation group set up for us in the first days of school.
We were sanctioned off at 8:00 AM to grapple with two phrases that represented the mission/theme of the new school year, ours happened to be caring and trust. Only we had to do it to song. I remember thinking, are you kidding? Me, sing? Scoff….but I am sure everyone in our group was thinking this as well. I distinctly remember this colleague coming over and introducing herself amid the groans of this group with a smile, and energized in the fact that she had a great idea! We could do the song to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, I was laughing hysterically, but I do remember her smile and excitement of the possibilities that existed for this activity. We laughed, and she had the group already in a fix of optimism. She turned the attitude of everyone around at such an early hour. On top of that, her child-like excitement turned everything into something that it was not originally. She offered, well, maybe not offered, but did perform a solo about AFS after we decided an easier chorus to the words trust and caring that we, (speaking for myself), the less vocally inept, could manage! Larry the chorus director was able to take the ideas and turn out a chorus we could easily do! During the “rehearsal” there was an opportunity to sing in a solo, and sure enough this very colleague did and it was the final touch that out everyone over the top and laughing, enjoying this event, all from the right attitude and enthusiasm.
All this came back at me in waves and made me realize how lucky I was to have someone as this individual approach me in the very beginning of orientation, who I never had met, and made me feel so welcome and able to laugh at so early in the morning. Her child-like enthusiasm was contagious, and I was lucky enough to see in a short period what everyone around me knew as veterans at ASF, that she was dynamic for these reasons and so many more I never knew about. I was lucky to be the recipient of these qualities for this orientation, ad I thought what a welcoming gift as some new to ASF!
I felt bad and wearisome as I entered the library kicking myself for not realizing her name from the earlier email, and shocked that we had this wonderful experience only days before. Then I realized what the ASF faculty must be going through as they had a lifetime of these same experiences with her.
As a faculty meeting was held to approach this awful loss, information was clear that a bus was made available for the memorial service this very afternoon. I began to walk this line of uncomfortable decisions, I felt I needed to show some respect to the same people at ASF that have welcomed me in and showed me such a level of friendliness and respect, the same that this very colleague showed me and did not have to; yet I did not want to seem as if I was disrespecting anyone but being at her memorial and not being able to share the many experiences those around me had. In my heart, I wanted to thank her for her generosity, as well as those around me, for I began to see her loving spirit was in each and every one of those faculty members that had welcomed me to ASF, in so many ways. What a wonderful gift she had left for them and what a wonderful gift each of the ASF faculty continued to represent in Pass forward her generosity and youthful enthusiasm. I wanted to show thanks and respect in the best way I knew how, and the only way I knew was to attend this lovely ladies’ memorial, despite reservations of anyone thinking, “You didn’t even know her?” – the first 2 days I was lucky enough to meet this colleague she went out of her circle of “comfortablness” to make me feel welcome, which still had me beside myself.
One of the most difficult moments was seeing my new ASF family hurting so badly, and realizing that they were dealing with such a loss that contributed so much to their lives in and out of school. Their welcoming spirit had been evident since the day I stepped on campus, and I can only imagine how proud and gracious of a spirit had been passed on through them from their loss. I was able to see how incredibly beautiful the ceremony was with falling water behind the whole memorial and seeing how endearing the ASF family was along with the colleague’s immediate family dealing with this sudden loss. I felt at an utter loss wanting to be respectful, thankful and supporting of all that the ASF family had given me since my arrival.
Learning a language is only part of truly integrating with a new environment. Wanting to take in all that represents a new group of people, as well as paying attention to the little things is the difference between someone that impacts others, and someone that is there for the wrong reasons. I learned this today, and realized that schedules, timeframes, and agendas are just that without the heart behind them. There are rings of interaction that pass us by because we have too many things on our plate, we make ourselves too busy, or we just do not pay attention to the little things that count opposed to the things that dominate our lives that matter little (bills, things to buy, unnecessary events). I am grateful to have received such a wonderful gift as ASF as well as the people that make ASF a moving experience, and my heart is with each and every one of them as I was lucky enough to see a small window of what they were able to see for years.