Friday, April 14, 2006

Every 15 Minutes Followup

I was intending to post a followup sooner, but got distracted.

Day 2 of the Every 15 Minutes event was highlighted by a school assembly in which all the "dead" students returned and assembled on the auditorium stage. A local media celebrity MC'd the assembly (aptly, she is the traffic reporter for a local morning TV news program) which consisted of a video of the previous day's events (the students being pronounced "dead", and the simulated car crash on the football field, along with video of the "victims" being worked on in the ER and at the morgue, all set to extremely emotional music), a keynote speech by a passionate MADD advocate who lost her own eldest daughter to a drunk driver, and "last letters" from the parents to the "dead" students, and vice-versa, read openly to the audience.

Needless to say emotions were running very high. I don't think I've ever seen more high school aged kids willing to cry and be emotional about anything.

I was one of the parents that got to read my "last letter" to Camie, which I posted for you previously. Camie had no idea I was picked, and as I got to reunite with her up on stage, I picked her up in a big bear hug and twirled her around a few times before putting her down. It really was kind of like getting my dead daughter back. The simulation be damned, it was still emotional.

After the assembly, the participants were invited to a luncheon where we got to share with other parents and students about the event.

Gidget asked me, what was Camie's reaction to it all?

She was pretty OK with the whole thing. She and I are apart often, since she spends part of her time at her mom's house, so the "out of contact" thing wasn't all that unique. What really surprised her was how many students knew her, and how wide the circle of people was that would be effected by her absence. After it was all over, there were friends and acquaintances from all over the school coming up to her, and hugging her, and telling her they were glad she's back! I got several hugs from the kids, too, since I know several of them, and again, the circle of the affected is wider than either Camie or I thought.

In fact, a case in point: my next door neighbor here in the apartment complex is a good friend. She works in law-enforcement, and knows what a policeman and chaplain going to someone's door usually means, which is usually bad news. Well, long about 3pm on the first day, after the death notification, she knocks on my front door. My older daughter answered, and I could hear my neighbor asking, "Is your dad OK?"

I walked to the door, all smiling, glad to see my neighbor, but the look of concern on her face was unmistakable. She had seen the chaplain and police that morning, and had been worried all day that something was wrong. She'd been waiting to see me walking in the parking lot (since we often talk out there), but couldn't stand the wait and finally came to see if I was OK. The look of relief at the fact it was just a simulation was clear, but the incident really illustrated to me, again, the circle is wider than I thought.

Camie and I have been much closer since the event. We always make sure to say "I love you" to each other, give hugs, and I give her a kiss on the forehead before she leaves.

So, I don't think it was anything earthshaking for Camie, but it was definitely thought provoking and sobering.

And sobering is what this event was all about.


Ed Abbey said...

I've been to more funerals than I care for and I know that I will be attending many more in my life. I am always amazed at those who show up, some that I never expected or knew that they knew the person I knew. It's kind of like the seven degrees to Kevin Bacon thing. We weave a lot bigger life web than we realize.

Mike J. said...

You know, funeral are something that have been very scarce in my life. I've been to a handful. far less than 10, in my whole life. But you are exactly right, people showed up at every one of them that no one expected, and they were usually connected to the deceased in a way most there had no idea.

What's the saying, be kind to those you meet, cause you never know when you'll meet them again in a time of need, or something like that.

Nic said...

That is really great that you were able to do that for her. I'm sure glad that she was able to hear your "last" letter to her. I'm sure it was something that she needed to hear. The whole idea sounds wonderful!

Congrats on getting Sunday's off! God certainly had a hand in that. :)

You've been tagged my dear friend. Come on by and see what it's about.

Nettie said...

I think it is pretty moving...and hopefully educational.