A year ago yesterday, I read online that a teenager had drowned. They had not released the name then, but my gut feeling told me that I knew the teenager. So I went to my in-laws for dinner, wondering who had drowned. When I got home, they released the teenager’s name. Not only did I know him, but I had also taught him for two years. The last time I had seen him was a little over a year before. He had come in with his mom to pick up his sister. When I saw him in the office, I made it a point to say hi to him. He gave me a hug.
A year ago today, I prayed and kept looking at the online newspaper to see if there were any updates. I wanted the outcome to be good. That night I went to bed, not realizing that my prayers were not answered. He had passed away.
When I awoke the next day, I checked the online newspaper to see any updates. The headline read, “Man who jumped in pool to save friends has died.” My heart sank as the tears welled up in my eyes. After I read the article, I heard a bang on my window. I looked up and saw the color red. I just knew it was a cardinal, my good luck “charm.”
For the next few days, I continued with a broken heart, not knowing when his memorial or funeral would be held. I knew I needed to be there if not for his family and friends but for myself. I needed to say goodbye and tell him he was my hero because he died trying to save another person’s life.
The next weekend was the 4th of July. My mom had invited the boys and me on a mini vacation to West Virginia. I went not knowing when his memorial or funeral was. We kept calling home to see if anyone could find out any information. No one could. That weekend was what I needed. I needed to get away. I got home on the 6th of July and found they had posted the obituary with the date and time of his funeral. It was going to be the next day. My hubby would watch the boys while I went to the funeral.
I went to the funeral. Several memories stick in my mind. The first was when his mom hugged me; she asked me, “how I was doing?” I had not been her son’s teacher for six years, but she cared enough to ask how I was doing. The other memory that sticks in my mind is when the young man whose life he helped save declared, “He did it for me. He did it for me.”
The next few days were a blur because I was physically ill and mentally drained.
During this past school year, I’ve shared memories of him with co-workers and attended what would have been his graduation.
Today is the anniversary of his death. Renier, have I told you lately that you are my hero.
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