How Many Times Can the Broken Pieces Be Picked Up – and Who Will You Give Them To?

It is at the very weakest moments of our lives, that we often see the truest parts of our own self. It is difficult to say why this is the case, but as for myself, it has been often the truest of the truths I have discovered.

In receiving the devastating news that a mentor and one of the truest hearts I have ever met lost her brave and courageous battle with cancer this evening, I asked myself silently a few times, why on this sometimes biting, knashing, seemingly ungrateful earth do some of the best, purest people, some of the hardest fighting, working, and most selfless people have to suffer such great length, where so many others that are selfish, ungrateful, bullying, individuals remain untouched by struggle? Why on earth indeed?

I am sure many of you have asked this question in some of the most trying, frustrating, exhausting, and bottom of the bottom of times. It is in these moments of utter desperation, that the truest form of who we are and can be is often revealed, and I always have believed that is from the strength of the very people we mourn, but have given us the strength to represent them forever in our actions, our loves, and their lives and just in another form. Through each of us.

Ms Cheryl as many of you know was one of the purest heroes I have ever met on this earth. Coming back from Mexico City, broken-hearted about leaving such a close-knit family of people that had taken a chance on me, never knowing me and taking me in. Losing the one person that had hired me when I originally was not the right person they were looking for, Mr. Williams in hiring me changed the trajectory of my whole life. Little did he know at the time, his decision put some of the most amazing young people, some of the most amazing teachers, artists, and dear friend in my life that to this day, I am sure I never deserved.

Leaving this all behind was bittersweet, and coming back to my family, and working through several losses on top of losing Mr. Willians, upon moving back, often pushed me to the ground to a crawl more times than I care to recall. Yet, ms Cheryl took me in at perhaps one of my lowest moments, and she gave me so many freedoms to work with students and young people, it gave me more than a running start returning to the United States in such a blur of not knowing who I was amid the changes or where I was going. She gave me a map.

Through the countless issues, problems, and dilemmas that Ms Cheryl guided young people through, listened to, and found ways to support them and give them confidence, she never wavered from her calm, reflective demeanor, ever. She always placed the clouds of hope under every single young person, adult, and friend she came into contact with. She passed its legacy onto every single person that came to know her, and when she retired many were devastated in seeing her move away from a scene she always managed to play the hero in.

Who would save everyone now? The greatest legacy and gift that Ms. Cheryl provided to everyone within her reach was the love, the listening ear, the calm demeanor, the will to work until you thought you had nothing left, and then you realize you have a whole lot more because there are so many others that have 20 times worse problems than yourself. In fact, the very complaints you think you had are mere specks of dust when it came to trying to find ways to help those around us that were suffering way more than we would ever come to realize.

Ms. Cherly, for me, took a chance on me, that she could have easily said, you have so much going on right now, you just moved back, I am not sure you are going to be able to give what we need for this Upward Bound program. She never doubted me. She jumped in and advocated for my abilities, talents, and interests from day one as if she had known me all her life. I can tell you from the heart, apart from my family and the amazing friends I have been lucky to have as a part of my life, there is also a whole ton of people on the opposite side of that spectrum that will never advocate except for themselves, period. Ms Cheryl’s love for all things possible, even in the middle of the worst of storms, is LEGENDARY. As is Ms Cheryl.

I would guess, leaning more to positive belief, there are so many of us in the world touched by Ms Cheryl, touched by Mr Williams, touched by someone that believed in us for no reason, advocated for us, and set us on our way to doing things we never knew we could do. The very worst thing we could do is hide from those opportunities to keep these amazing individuals alive through a withdrawing grief. I grief that says I can no longer pick up the pieces.

I am of the belief that just when we think there are no more broken pieces, another storm of pieces will be at our feet, trying to wear us down. However, the lives of such people as Mr Williams, Ms Cheryl, who give you a part of themselves because they believe in you, and they believe you can go on to help someone else and believe in them like they did you? That is the largest piece of all to pick up and hold onto – the very biggest piece. You are so missed already Ms. Cheryl but your life has just begun thanks to the many throngs of people your life affected. Thank you so very much.

I love 4:03 of this video – that was the very epitome of who Ms. Cheryl is!

I think it is a powerful statement that both Mr Williams and Ms Cheryl both wanted us to spend more time helping others than knowing and worrying about them- which defines them perfectly in all they ever did.


About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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