Ever since my last post, about the sudden, premature death of my friend James Effer, I've been trying to figure out how to keep blogging. What can I write now that won't seem trivial? Self-involved? Pointless? Maybe nothing. But even though it feels - when something like this happens - as though everything should stop, it doesn't.
As a staff, we all went to school the day after we'd heard the news, and cried together in the staff room. Then the bell rang, and we had to tell the students. From then on, the rest of the week felt very unreal, and dream-like.
I spent two nights going through eight years of archived school photos, looking for pictures of Jim. It wasn't easy - because usually, he was our photographer. But I enjoyed the pictures, and felt a small burst of satisfaction every time I found one where we'd caught him for a change. It made me feel useful during a time when it feels like there is so little one can do. Then, on Wednesday night, I pulled an "all-nighter" getting a memorial slideshow ready for our students. At ten o'clock, I had the basics together, and probably could have burned it to DVD. But the music didn't line up the way I wanted, and I was hoping to add a few more photos. So I kept working. At midnight, I discovered a problem with my Windows Media Player, which I needed to convert some music for the show...I spent a long time mucking around with it, and then finally turned everything off, re-booted, and all was well. By 3 a.m. I'd hit that point where the adrenaline kicks in, and I couldn't have slept if I'd wanted to. I was creating something. I wanted it to be perfect. I wished I'd had more time to record voiceovers with the students who worked with Jim, but I reminded myself that what I had (no rehearsal, one take!) was authentic, and that counts for something, too. At 5:30 a.m. I put a disc into the computer and prayed that all would burn properly. At 5:45 I went to bed, and at 7:00a.m. I got up again.
The DVD burned properly, and I set up the data projector at school just the way Jim showed me. But I wanted a cable to connect the sound through the gym speakers, and nobody, at first, knew where the cable was, or how it worked. Made us miss Jim a little bit more, and wonder what other "soft knowledge" we'd be looking for without him.
I have never seen our students so solemn and respectful as they were that day. A teacher who told me she never cries - not even for her own father's funeral - said the tribute I'd made brought her to tears. My principal took my hand and said it had been perfect.
I will make copies for Jim's family. But I haven't done so yet.
We had a funeral to attend that afternoon. Then, because nobody felt quite ready to go home yet, we went out together as a staff. I needed a break from the sadness, and I couldn't do the DVDs that night anyway, as I had prepare for a conference the next day...
Life goes on. Forever altered, but still - thankfully - it goes on.
Our school pictures will be missing something now. So will our staff.
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