I don’t blog much these days, mostly b/c I don’t really have much to say, that I can say here, or that the 6 of you that read the blog, don’t already know.
Well, that’s probably not true – but there’s just not much to say, in this forum.
But, the last few weeks have been challenging, and the last 10 days have been particularly challenging.
There’s work stuff, and camp stuff, and life stuff, and church stuff, but the kicker was the loss of this amazing man, Jerry.
Jerry was my high-school counselor. I don’t mean the “help you figure out your classes” counselor, but my saw 1-2x every week for four years, mental health professional. I got connected to him early in my Freshman year, when some stuff went down, and the people around me finally believed me that I needed some help. In reality, he was the “drug and alcohol” guy, and dealt with that population of student, but occasionally, you could get backdoored into his caseload, and I was lucky enough to know people who knew people and voila, there you go.
Looking back, I have to think that I was his “easy” kid. I just had normal kid issues, and a life that had imploded, and some extra stuff, that all happened at once. I wasn’t an at-risk student in the way that so many of his students were. But, I never felt that I was any less important than anyone else he saw. He always made time for me, always managed to pull me out of classes that I knew no one in, so that my circle of people, didn’t realize I was see’ing him. He was always there to help find a solution, and deal with whatever crisis (small or big) were happening. He had a tiny tiny office in old admin building, and it always held whoever it needed to. His brother at a reception yesterday said it was like a “clown car office”, kids would just cram in there… and he was right.
A few years later, I ended up being the “supportive adult” in his office with a student, who I had to find counseling services for. It was an odd turn-of-events to be back in his (now larger) office, but as the adult. That same year, I started running into him socially and it was quite the trip to see the other side of his great man. I loved it.
And then he died. 2 weeks ago today, at age 61. And I am sad.
Jerry was the first one that taught me how to separate the meaning from the action, and to be able to take a few steps back and see the perspective of all parties. He gave me permission to feel what I felt, and to own it. He helped me see key people in my life with a different set of lenses, and how having expectations feels, and how it feels when there are none. (Sidenote – I am still working on that one. 20 years later. Expectations man, they bite you in the ass.) He helped me navigate through tumultuous times, and through all the shit that was going down in real life. I really, really, wouldn’t have made it through those years without him. My mom always said, “he saved you”, and she’s right.
Thursday was his memorial, and it was in the quad at AGHS. There were HUNDREDS of people there, and people who were totally not connected in any other way than through this great man. Students, Faculty, local police, fire, sheriff, probation, people from tennis, from the country club, from the Europe trips he chaperoned – it was really… odd. People in my life that are not normally connected – were all there, to be part of this experience.
Tangent – I had seen on FB that J was going to be there, and I think I walked by him 12 times, before I realized – oh I know that guy. Something about the new work outfit and the facial hair business, totally threw me off.
After the public memorial, that had the biggest American flag, I have EVER seen hanging above it, some folks held a private reception, that I was lucky enough to attend. It was lovely and an opportunity to see various people from various aspects all connected. I was telling my mom how touched I was to be included, and that I was happy to represent many of the students that he saw through out his many years at AGHS, but that I still felt like I shouldnt be there.
When we walked into the reception, there were tons of pictures and things, many of which included a sock-monkey. And I was laughing a bit at those, and St. John said – well you know you started that, right? Ummmm no. Apparently, when I was in HS, he shaved off his moustache, and I walked into his office and said… Jeeez, you look like a sock-monkey! Shocking, right – apparently I was funny back then, who knew?? And that kicked off 20 years of sock-monkey things, and apparently every time he got a sock monkey, he’d say “G-D that AF, calling me a sock-monkey”. As I was looking at the pictures, I do remember the comment, but had no idea that it kicked off so many years of ribbing.It was a big reminder about what kind of impact a person can make, with out realizing they are making an impact.
Where am I going with this? I don’t really know. I just am so grateful to this guy for being part of my life, for giving me the foundation that allows me good mental health, and the ability to be a logical thinker, and someone who see’s both sides, and all of that. I am really sad, that I didn’t get a chance to share that with him, bc every time I tried, I cried. Shocking, right.
So anyway – in the world of public memorials, where that’s the “thing to do”, I just can’t do it on the FB – but I wanted to share it somewhere. I am also hoping by “saying” what I’m thinking, that I can free up that part of my brain and use it for other things.
I’m eternally grateful that I had Jerry in my life. I wouldn’t have made it with out him. And, I know that I speak for hundreds of past students of his. There was a quote in the news story online that said “Jerry, thanks for listening to me when I was 16. I’m 38 now and I’m fine.” I don’t know the cat that wrote that, but I can totally relate. Thank you for listening to me when I was 14. I’m 34 now, and I’m fine.
Allright, I think that’s it. Sorry for the sad, rambly-ness of this.