I was going to say but today is not about me, it is about them. But I realized they are not here anymore, they took themselves away from me and left me alone. So maybe it is about me, remembering them.
Mr. Cau, Paul, who my mother babysat in Alabama, whose parents were my grandparents best friends, and who taught me biology junior year of high school. His passion for teaching was inspirational. It was his first year, somehow I was stuck in a class of only freshmen, and his love for his calling was unmistakable. At least by me, unfortunately the freshmen were ruthless in their immaturity and disrespect of a new teacher. But we found our connection, our interlocking past, and I often stayed after class to talk to him. He was sweet, kind, gentle. He created games to help us learn, he let us stay after class to dissect a shark one day because we were curious, it was the coolest thing I did in high school. But he was sick, he had hypothyroidism, and this disease often leads to depression. He was absent a lot, we had quite a few subs, then one day he disappeared. I'll never forget the ignorant principal talking to a frightened group of children, saying "I just know in my heart he is ok, he will come back." He may have already been dead at that point. They later found him, I don't know if I made it up or if someone told me that he shot himself in a field. Either way that is my image in my head when I think of him, of his last moments. He was my first.
Mr. Jones, Dr. Jones, David, was my high school band director. He was actually the assistant but we all connected with him more. We loved him, but had a funny way of showing it. I think now we may have walked all over him, we gave him hell and headaches, always playing pranks and chanting "Dr. Jones knows where the hose is at!" A private joke that made us laugh every time, now I wonder if he loved or hated us. I'm sure it was the former, we spent a lot of time confiding in him as well and rising to greatness with his guidance. It was a special connection, he was a mentor to so many of us and those after us. I saw him a few more times after I graduated high school, then I heard he moved on to directing a college band. Then almost five years ago I received a test message while I was at work, he had killed himself. I don't know why, I know he suffered many hardships in his life, but even though I had lost touch with him and the gap was large the pain was acute and the hurt still lingers. He was the second one that shocked my soul. His birthday is 11/11. I always remembered because we always did a Veteran's Day parade and it would fall on or around his birthday. Today would have been his birthday.
Wes, Weezie, my greatest love and my most shattering heartbreak. It's too soon still, there's so much history written already about him. He is the third tally, his cuts the deepest. He hung himself in his shed.
The moment is always the same, I feel dizzy, like a bell just struck and vibrating with soundless noise. Then the gasping sobs come, the acute shocking devastation and disbelief. Then the longest ache, the one that never leaves, the flowing of tears till my eyes dry out and the shallow wounds that reopen with the slightest prob. That never leaves, it always lurks below the scars. And today, always on 11/11, they remain ripped open and exposed.
Three years ago today I began my tally, I never expected to be adding to it. I write this in sorrow that I may not forget, that I may honor their sacrifice with my life continuing on. Yes it is painful, but it is affirming. I will not let them down, I will seize this day and all days hence. It is my carpe diem, it is my never forget, it is my scars to bear. Happy birthday Mr. Jones, you and the others are always with my, I wear my heart on my wrist, today is your day.