There’s an emptiness here that is heavier than I’ve ever felt.
It’s just a little after 2:30, less than 24 hours after you died, Casey. I’m sitting here alone in our room, 701, that you and Kelsey called your own for so many years. No music plays, and I keep staring in the back area, behind my desk, where you and Kelsey always settled in.
It is darker than the rest of the room, for some reason, as if its light has been draped in shadow.
The sorrow runs deep here.
I am waiting for Kendall. She misses you terribly, and we both need to talk a little, share the grief, and just try to make sense out of this.
At this moment, making sense out of anything seems utterly impossible.
I wonder if you knew completely what you contributed to my life, and to the life and the spirit of this room where so many students have come to seek a little break from the tensions of the world, where priorities are not necessarily ranked by grades and things to put in bulleted lists on tightly-sealed transcripts.
I wonder if you knew that this room was as much a part of you as you were a part of it.
Where do I begin? Your kindness? Your gentle, giving spirit? How about with your smile that halted a bad day in its tracks? Or maybe with your beautiful eyes that radiated a love as warmly as two suns never touched by shadow?
It is impossible to choose any one of these, Casey.
All of you—every smile, every laugh, every kind word—contributed to this space that continues to allow others to feel that they have a place to call their own. A place where they will not be judged. A place where they will be loved.
And although this room seems a little darker today, I will not allow the glow of your spirit to fade away. You filled this space, our hearts, with genuine love that will continue to stay with me as I teach, as I remember that everyone in our room is an individual before they are a student, and that they have hopes and dreams to hold on to love, to happiness long after they leave high school.
In this quiet, heavy room, it is heartbreaking to know that you reached a moment where you couldn’t touch that love, where you lost your grip on that hope, even though it was as much around you as it still is around me in this room.
All I can do, Casey, is get out of the way and let your spirit and your love pave a path for others as they come and go in 701.
For me, the heaviness remains, and the light is touched by shadow. But if I have learned anything in your death, it is that each of us matters more to others than we might ever realize, and when darkness comes, we must wait for the light to return. With it comes the love we try so desperately to hold on to. With it comes a new moment, a new hope, a new chance to replace the shadows with the light of life and of love, something you gave to me and so many others without conditions or expectations.
Unconditional life. Unconditional love.
It’s all we can ask ourselves to give, to hold on to, in your memory.