Super Mom

Saturday, June 1, 2013

70 weeks ago, Jay turned seven. She wanted a bowling birthday party, and that's exactly what she got. The party sounded like a great deal: the package included bowling, pizza, and drinks for each kid, and we had our own party hostess. They'd thought of everything as far as turn-key birthday parties go.

What I didn't anticipate was that I would be the only adult herding children into bowling groups and programming lanes and adding bumpers and putting on pairs of socks to feet that weren't my children's feet and velcroing shoes that were awkward and didn't fit all the tiny feet I didn't know. I also didn't anticipate that the girls' dad's new girl friend ('the 24 year old') would be in charge of getting the cookie cake, that she would be late, and that the day of the party would be the day I realized that she wasn't actually 'just his assistant.'

It was kind of weird, and I tried to ignore the glaringly obvious by keeping myself busy serving pizza and lemonade and giant pieces of cookie cake to 22 adorable 1st graders. At some point in the midst of my scrambling, one of Jay's friend's moms came up to me and gently asked if I was alright. The flustered look on my face was the only answer she needed, and she quickly jumped in and helped me as if she was a friend I'd known for years.

From extra slices of pizza to additional chunks of cookie, from cleaning up spills to taking pictures of Jay and me as gifts were opened, I was floored by the unexpected kindness of a complete stranger that day.

Later that night when the nagging ex-wife in me politely informed the girls' dad that a little help would have been appreciated during the party, he simply said, 'I'm sorry, you're right...but it looked like you and Super Mom had it under control - she was awesome!'

And we she did, and she was...Super Mom.

68 weeks ago, Jay came home with a box full of pictures. There were at least 100 prints, a cd, and an 8x10 - all pictures that Super Mom had taken and developed for us. Again, I was completely floored by the unexpected generosity of someone I barely knew, and I was certain that Super Mom wasn't nearly an accurate enough name for her.

When I wrote her a thank you note, I only knew was that her name was Dawn, that her daughter was a good friend of Jay's, and that I would never forget her kindness.

Nine days ago, we had a horrible and unexpected tragedy in our sweet town. A little boy in the sixth grade passed away, and he went to the same middle school where the girls will go after elementary. There is nothing I've experienced like the death of a child that instantly puts life into perfect perspective.

I felt like I'd been kicked in the shins eight days ago when the mom of one of my students informed me that her son had been in the boy's class in 4th and 5th grade. I was blown away six days ago when I read his obituary, and four days ago when I found out another one of my students would be a pall bearer, I felt like someone needed to quickly pinch me back into reality.

Two days ago, Jay came home and told me that one of her friend's brothers, who was in 6th grade, had passed away, and she was emphatic that it had to be the same boy. She explained that it was the older brother of the daughter of Super Mom...from her party last year.

I thought it couldn't possibly be true and maybe Jay had simply misunderstood.

But she was right. It was Dawn's son.

I didn't know him, but Cee knew him, and Jay just loves his little sister.

Today, I went to his funeral. I went as much for the girls as I went for the three students I teach this year who also knew him, but most of all, I went because it seemed like the very least I could do to support someone who showed me what it means to be unconditionally kind.

Today's was the first funeral I have ever attended for a child.

I've never seen a truer celebration of life, and I'm honestly sad that I didn't have the opportunity to know this boy because he sounded like an amazing little firecracker with a heart of gold and a mind that exceeded anything you'd ever in a million years expect of a sixth grader. And how could he not be with such an incredible mom as his matriarch?

When Dawn stood in front of the congregation and presented us with the eulogy for her son, I don't think there was a dry eye in the entire room. She was solid, she was confident, she was kind, and most of all, she was honest.

She did for an entire community something similar to what she did for me at Jay's birthday party. In a time of weakness, she put an entire population at ease with her comforting words of assurance. She reminded us that he is in a better place. She reinforced that he lived his young life to the fullest, and I think everyone who was there is thankful for the unassuming way she created a little bit of peace in the midst of something that seemed nearly unbearable at first glance.

70 weeks ago, Dawn got the nickname Super Mom; and after today, I've decided that Super Mom doesn't give her nearly enough credit for the strength she possesses.

For me, ever the over thinker, processing the events of the last week has been an overwhelming task. Once again, I find myself comforted by the kindness of people's spirits coming from places that are completely unexpected.

And once again, human potential quite simply astounds me.


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