On the evening of Sunday May 15th, we received a phone call from our son that his best friend, Rob Harris, had just been killed by a train. My son was the second person on the scene. The boy was 18 years old. Too young to die. He was one of those kids that EVERYONE knew and loved to be around. His friends said “he had this ability to make complete strangers become best friends.” My heart broke for my son’s loss, we mourned his death, we attended his celebration of life service with over 800 other people and also a Paddle Out in the Ocean where over 100 people formed a big circle and paid tribute to Rob. The outpouring of love in our community during the week that followed his death was nothing short of amazing. My son and his friends held onto each other a little tighter and vowed to keep living like Rob…with a perpetual smile, an infectious laughter, and the innate ability to make every one he touched a little happier.
My heart breaks for his parents, for I don’t know how I would survive losing one of my children. But they have been surrounded by Rob’s friends and have made a vow to keep his memory alive.
This week saddened me. It was hard to teach my classes because I felt such a great sense of sadness for the loss of innocence, and had this feeling of blinding fear that what if that had been MY child?? But every time I was in the room with my students, their energy lifted me, their hugs embraced me, and I was able to feel less “unsettled.” Every time I got on my own mat to do my personal practice, I was able to let go of the feelings and emotions that I could not comprehend: Grief, Losing a child. HOW does one survive this? I could not even IMAGINE how I would survive such a loss.
But when I witnessed the community of Seabreeze High school students, residents or Ormond Beach, friends, and family all coming together to lift each other up…..to remember and celebrate his life…to comfort each other and promise to always remain strong, I realized you CAN make it through a loss of this magnitude. It always brings me back to the notion that TOGETHER we can do anything. It is COMMUNITY that builds strength. And it is LOVE that conquers ALL.
I hug my kids a little tighter now, and tell them I love them more. I am grateful for, and appreciate my life, my family, my friends, my students. Have gratitude for the people in your life and never, ever, take them for granted.