My first thought after the shooting at Oxford High School is to mourn the deaths of Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Justin Shilling, and Hana St. Juliana.
My second thought is to thank God for the great gifts of Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Justin Shilling and Hana St. Juliana. How lucky to have known and enjoyed these special, wonderful, unique young men and women, even if it was just for a moment in time. A far too brief moment.
That is what this tragedy has done. Stolen lives. Stolen time. Stolen stories.
My own situation was the reverse; I lost my Dad in a car accident when I was an 18-year old freshman at college. Two days after Christmas, 1973. That was 48 years ago. I still miss my Dad. And I think of him. Every. Single. Day.
Like the time our neighbor lost his dog, so Dad went out driving to look for him. We soon spied a dog romping in the fields, stopped, and watched the lovable mutt hurtle into the backseat of our car. At which point in time, two police officers pulled up behind us and started to book my Dad for dog-napping.
Fortunately that got straightened out, and away we went. Turned out, this wasn’t our neighbor’s dog. So back we went in the car to drop off the lovable mutt in the field in which we found him. At which point in time, those same two police officers pulled up behind us and started to book my Dad again, this time for dog-abandonment.
I also remember the time I convinced Dad to take me downtown to a hotel to get autographs from a visiting baseball team. As it happened, there was a torrential thunderstorm that night. As the team bus left the hotel, the driver became disoriented and shifted the bus into reverse. Right into the grille of Dad’s green Ford Galaxie. Dad said a bad word that night. (No autographs.)
These stories bring my Dad back to me. So I have a simple request to make to all the friends and neighbors, teachers and coaches of Madisyn and Tate, Justin and Hana.
Tell your stories. Write them down and share them.
This time of year, there is a favorite holiday movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” on every channel. The point of the film is to show the difference that one person can make, all the little things that add up to, well, a wonderful life.
Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Justin Shilling and Hana St. Juliana made a difference, too. They made life better, much better, for all who knew them. What would truly be wonderful is if everyone who was blessed to know and befriend Madisyn and Tate, Justin and Hana, would take a few minutes to share their stories with their Moms and Dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles and aunts.
This just might be the best gift you give all year long.