Thursday’s chaplain

Lunch at school on Thursday was quite tasty being baked chicken and mashed potatoes. The kids at the table where I sat were very willing to try their veggies, too, which were carrots and kiwi. Everyone seemed in a good mood at lunch.

The first grade class that didn’t want a story last week were quite apologetic and anxious for me to come read to them. Which I did. They did so well, behavior-wise, that they got two stars on their star chart, completing it, and thus getting a prize. I had squishy frogs for them which delighted the teacher and the students.

One of the first graders from a Wednesday class was in the office, on the naughty bench, as I was leaving. The vice principal had her plate full with other miscreants so I asked if I could take care of this little guy until she was able to get to him. “Sure, that would be great. Go to his class and get his work to do here in the office.”

The little boy was not the least bit remorseful as he had just been playing around when he “accidentally” hit a girl. He is a whirling dervish and I tried to explain, as he bounced off the walls of the hallway going to his classroom, that he needed to watch out what he was doing and be more careful. I’m not sure he even heard me.

I made my way to the classroom and picked up the worksheets. Miscreant child stopped at the restroom and then we were back in the office where he sat in the corner doing the work and I headed out to my next duty–visiting the mortuary where the little boy who had died over Easter break lay in repose.

I had seen the little boy’s death notice in the paper and noticed that visitation hours would coincide with the time I was at Columbia. The funeral home is a short distance from the school. I was the only one there. No family. No friends. The mortuary owner and I sat in the viewing room and chatted. She was quite curious about my role as school chaplain. I was forthright and told her I had no idea what I was doing. I felt God telling me, ‘put on the uniform and show up, I’ll do the rest.” Just like this visitation. I had never done anything like this before.

She smiled, reached over and patted my knee. “You showed up for me, today.”  I told her how much we admire the work her family does for the community. Many of the funerals they do are at no cost due to the poverty of the community. The school staff is collecting money for this child’s funeral, and I learned that so far there had been no other payment made for the service. She said they would appreciate any amount the school provided. I could have cried. I did cry once I was back in my car, heading back to school to fill in the office manager about what I had learned.

 

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12 responses to “Thursday’s chaplain

  1. It’s sad that there were no friends and family there at the mortuary. What a sad ending for that little boy.

    • I’m assuming that it was because it was the viewing and visitation. I’m hoping people came for the funeral. I was unable to attend the funeral so wanting to at least go to extend my condolences at this event.

  2. wow this is shocking news Delaine, it makes me so sad about this boy.

    • Yes, so sad. I can’t imagine how his grandmother is dealing with this as he died in her backseat. I always say, “not on my watch,” when I have my grandchildren.

  3. I too feel so sad for this young child. I would have cried, too, if I’d been there. You did show up for the mortuary owner, too.

  4. Every person should have someone to mourn them. I guess you were the boy’s.

    • I’ve been feeling so sad for this child and his family this past week. His sister is also a student at Columbia but she has not returned to school. I will look for her next week.

  5. As someone who has tried to simple, be present, sincere, and caring, in unconventional times and places I recognize something deeply authentic and important in your words today.

    “She was quite curious about my role as school chaplain. I was forthright and told her I had no idea what I was doing. I felt God telling me, ‘put on the uniform and show up, I’ll do the rest.” Just like this visitation. I had never done anything like this before.

    She smiled, reached over and patted my knee. “You showed up for me, today.”

  6. I can’t thank you enough for all that you do.

  7. The death of a child is awful. We’ve had a few in our family and you never forget them.

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