I was in the courtyard yesterday after a long break. This is a space that I have been working on for close to three years now, transforming it into a welcoming, reflective space where kids can go and get a breath and remember themselves and their potential. The efforts were inspired by a series of tragic events, most specifically, the deaths of two students at the coast. They were swept into the ocean and drowned in front of their friends. The horror and grief of this event rocked our community and inspired us to create a permanent space to celebrate life.
Since then I have learned what volunteerism means. What it is to give yourself and your time to something that doesn’t belong to you. I struggled with the weight of the project sometimes, the efforts to keep others involved, to not need anything back. At the golden moments, surrounded by funny groups of teens and dedicated parents, I found myself held in community in a way that I had always longed for. Other times, I felt the weight of the loneliness that came after the loss.
As we raised the money to do the work, and I met so many others who were not only touched by the loss on that fateful Saturday in February, but by loss itself. Sisters, daughters, parents, and classmates from fifty years ago who were wanting, needing to be remembered, became a part of the project. The courtyard became a beautiful container for everyone’s loved ones.
Now we are collecting the inscriptions for the memorial pavers that people purchased to help fund the space. Every day, I am touched by the beautiful reflections being sent in to be inscribed in the space. A close family friend of one of the boys lost in the ocean sent this line: “Most precious was the light in your eyes,” which was a part of a poem his mother shared at his memorial.
Precious indeed is the light we bring to the world. It is everything. The recent suicide of a father, husband, and local business man is making this process all the more poignant. How do we learn to come awake to the light in our eyes? To not take a single moment for granted? It is such a brief flame – this one wild life we have. How can we not feel grateful?