It has been a period of time since I realized that I lost the people that I knew [somewhat] well in my life. It did not hit me at first; but, as I am at college realizing how lucky I am to be one of many people who have the honor of attending a university, I am realizing it is hitting me. I will admit, there were times where I did not want to do anything, but sit, and think about the importance of those people, who helped shape me to who I am today, that have departed for “the next part of the journey.” So, as I sit in the front of Engleman Hall waiting for my ENG 112 class to start, I realize that I should be writing to “awe-inspire” people, and whoever else takes time to read my blog. That does not look like it is going to happen.
Last week, my parents told me that Mr. Rosa, a former Wakelee Elementary School teacher (who taught with my aunt Rosemary), passed away. Before I talk about it, I want to let everyone know about who he was, and his life. So, Mr. Rosa was a 4th grade teacher in the Wolcott school system for 37 years. He retired in the early 00s. He went to our church, and both he and I was lectors for the church. He helped St. Michael’s Church with all their functions, events, and helped our priests with everything. He was a man who deserved a good life- and had it. I had him as a substitute when I went to Wakelee.
I could tell based on his love, he loved his students, as much as we loved him. Well, he had open-heart surgery, and was on oxygen leading to his death. This was because one day, he went hiking with his son, and had a heart attack on the trail. I feel bad that I did not attend the wake. So many teachers, former students, church parishioners, and other people were there (asking about me, interestingly). I had work, so I could not go. He truly was a teacher, and person that I would seek advice from, when it pertained to anything related to children, education, and life. I miss him.
I happened to dig through old pictures on my computer, and found a bunch of old Wakelee pictures, since it opened in 1963. I saw pictures of teachers I had in the early 00s, and I saw pictures of my aunt Roe; then, I saw pictures of Mr. Rosa. A picture is worth a thousand words. From those pictures, I could imagine the impact he had on his students, and on life. I too, joined the proverbial band wagon, and saved those photos to represent a week: a week of honoring a man who taught us to love what we do, and taught us to love each other, as well as to love ourselves with complete and total abandonment (even though many people in my life have done the same). Mr. Rosa was someone many of us were blessed to have, and will never see the likes of again. I looked at all the pictures, thought about our memories, and I have come to what may be a rather hard, but harsh conclusion: we have not moved on.
When my uncle Jim passed away 3 years or so ago, I learned a lesson at his funeral- one that I had never learned before in all my years of religious education, and going to church. After hearing what the priest had to say, I did an enormous amount of trying to hear what people believed, and questioning other priests on what I want to know.
Everything pointed to, and confirmed what the priest said as I, my aunt Roe (Jim’s wife of 58 years), and our family stood by my uncle’s grave:
Grief is a process; but, when the mourning has finished, God wants us to understand that our primary obligation is not to the dead. It is to ourself, to our community, and to life, which is what our loved ones, who passed away, would want us to do as an obligation. We are obligated to live in their honor.
This lesson cut me to the core, because it is so logical, and so pure. It is one thing to honor those who have passed. It is entirely something else to remain stuck in the past, trying to relive the glory days, by wishing our loved ones who passed away were still here with us in the physical realm. It could be sometimes difficult to honor those who have departed; however, it is a sin to not move forward, and live our lives as they would want us to.
Many people would still, after many years, wish things had ended differently. Many people would still want answers to their questions. Many people would still be angry about being “robbed” of a soul so precious to all of us. But not me.
I no longer have questions. I no longer want answers. I am fulfilling my obligation to move forward, honoring the people who I loved that passed away. That is what we are suppose to do. As we honor the people who passed away by moving forward, we can take time to have our questions answered; and, we feel that our loved ones [who passed away] are still with us. I know Mr. Rosa is still with me, as I continue my education in college to be a teacher. I know my uncle Jim is still with me, as I continue to live the values of the scout oath and law (seeing that he was a scoutmaster). I choose to honor my loved ones who have passed.
With that said, I wish for two things when it is my turn to die and follow them in Heaven:
- I want to sit at home at our dinner table with my grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, sister, family extensions from both sides of the family, and my parents; we will eat grandma’s macaroni and meatballs, and eat my mom’s homemade Caesar salad, while mom is saying to me “Drew, sit down already and take a break, because the food is getting cold.”
- I want to be in a room with my family members and friends who have passed away, so we can talk about every single thing about all our lives that we lived, to which we all start joking around and saying “shut up” to each other.