Thanksgiving morning. It's quiet; only the pets and I are stirring. Soon I'll head out on a run, thankful that my body is sturdy and compliant.
I am thankful that we're having our family meal on Friday this year, and that we will continue our tradition of delivering student-made desserts to Christie's Place, a resource center for individuals and families afflicted with AIDS and/or HIV.
I am thankful for our students. They're baking desserts. They're cheering one another at championship games.
Yesterday they lost a peer. We lost a student. Not a former student, but a saw-you-on-Friday-and-I'll-see-you-on-Monday-in-your-usual-spot-on-the-quad current student. A young man whose furtive, defensive way of looking down when I greeted him was as familiar to me as his kind smile and Bob Marley tee shirt.
Have you ever watched a group of teenage boys mourn one of their own? I hadn't, until yesterday. A junior in high school, our friend grew up with a crew of boys since preschool, and some closest to him were with him at the accident.
Their grief was powerful, difficult to describe. As if enacting an ancient rite for which they had no model, no leadership, the boys--sixteen and seventeen-year-olds--tightened their circle and focused on taking care of one another and their friend's family.
A teacher on her morning jog at the beach watched them surf their buddy's board out into the Pacific. They arrived at school together to retrieve a mosaic he was constructing and present it to his mother. When my husband and I visited the tree last night, they were huddled around it together, hoodies and beanies, candles burning, remembering.
What emerged yesterday was that the young man we mourn for was the most loyal of friends. His comrades honored this trait in a simple and meaningful way: holding on to one another, forgiving one another, loving one another.
As I lay in bed this morning, just barely awake, I thought of the mother and father who rise today without their son.
His parents, his siblings, and his inspiring circle of friends will be in my thoughts today as we celebrate all we have to be grateful for.
Enjoy your family, friends.