Thursday, June 7, 2012

Moments of Silence

I have observed many a moment of silence. Spending those few awkward moments, thinking about the person or persons departed, caused me to reflect, but did little more, until last night. Last night as I have done for many years as a youth worker, I attended graduation. As we celebrated the students in our youth group family and their friends,though, one student was missing.

Cameron died on the last day of school, last year, as a junior. We gathered as a group over the week that followed, and invited others to join us. Then over the last year, we all mourned him separately. Often when we were together we would celebrate him with stories and laughter, but we rarely talked about the sadness and the loss. I know for those that went to his school it was hard never to have the school recognize publicly his death. His own sister wondered if people knew.

We knew. We thought of him often and marked his birthday on Facebook and in our own thoughts. As graduation approached we all wondered what it would be like. Cam had planned on not attending his senior year, but who knew, what would have happened, and at least he might have been there in the stands with us cheering for the rest. None of us wanted to bring any of the other graduates down. It was their moment to celebrate, how could we project our grief into that? We went to graduation happy for our seniors, but also thinking about Cam. It was like he was there with us, filling our thoughts, and asking what could have been. We wondered to ourselves if others were thinking the same thing, or if they had forgotten the guy, that has filled our thoughts on more days than we care to admit.

We first heard that we weren’t alone, that his sweet, amazing and too short life, was remembered, in a speech. They had surveyed the students and one thing many of them said was they wanted Cameron to be remembered. They were thinking of him. Then after all our students had crossed the stage, and the last name had been read, the moment of silence came. A moment of silence to remember the student who should have been there with them.

It felt so good, to know that everyone was thinking about him, praying for him and remembering his family. He isn’t just in our hearts, he is in theirs too, as a community. The whole audience, the whole graduating class, the staff standing there in the Memorial Coliseum, remembered Cameron Andrew Metz. I don’t know exactly why, but it was comforting. To have the community remember, our amazing friend, to have those students who grew up with him, or who just had a class or two, acknowledge and remember, it was awesome. Thank you Wilson class of 2012 for being brave enough to be honest about how you were feeling and acknowledge the loss of your classmate and friend.

Next week is another challenge in this grieving process, in this life without Cameron. On our regular youth group night, it’s also the anniversary of his death. It’s uncharted territory for many of us, navigating a youth group family after losing one of our own. It’s hard to know when we should be silent in our grief and when we should share, when we should mourn and when we should celebrate, but after last night I know that whatever we do, it’s better to do it together. Being honest about our feelings and sharing them, honors Cameron and helps us know that we aren’t alone in the laughter or the grief. So we are going to do something a bit unorthodox, and have youth group at his grave, and maybe a moment of silence or two.

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