We teach kids (and not-kids) that every good story, essay, thesis, needs a good attention-getting device to pull in the reader. One of the most dynamic attention getters, though not typically part of most writing exercises, is a picture.
This picture started my day. I’m not sure how or why, but it just did. Micah, 13 years old, enjoying his new Gandalf hat-and-beard combo from Spencers and a milkshake as we wander a mall in Dallas to waste some time before heading to the airport after an MLK Hockey Tournament. He was so happy, in a completely geeky way. I still remember him walking up to the TSA checkpoint at Love Field with the hat on, and getting a huge smile and laugh from the otherwise stoic TSA screener.
I found myself looking at old pictures of Micah. I found the original photograph that my sister copied for his painting. Micah, looking intensely focused, as he sings with his Concert Choir during a 2015 choir concert. The way he — a kid with pretty severe ADHD issues — could focus on what he loved, in this case singing. The way he gripped that microphone, the look in his eyes…
Micah waiting for his choir’s turn to perform at the 2015 ACE Festival in Mesa. So happy again, more than willing to ham it up for my camera. You can see his favorite earbuds firmly in place, listening to–it could have been anything. Pentatonix? Frankie Valli? Rent? The Producers? Hamilton? Or maybe just audio of his own choir’s last performance–he always begged me to get him my recordings as quickly as possible so he could listen and share them with his choirmates. Micah was buried with those earbuds in his ears…
Micah after the NARCh Huntington Beach Tournament in May 2015. His team won it all in the Platinum bracket, based in decent part to his outstanding goaltending. Micah made noise sometimes about not really liking roller hockey, but then I got smiles like this. I got to hear how proud he was of himself in those big games.
Then there was the daily Facebook reminder of my past posts. This one, a video I quickly put together after Micah’s DYHA Firebirds Mite team beat their arch-rivals from Arcadia, the VOSHA Mustangs. He was so amazing in net, even at just shy of nine years old. So many old friends in that video…both on his team and playing against him. It made me think about just how much video of Micah playing hockey I have stashed away…the home movies that I’m almost afraid to watch…
This is how I began my week, a week that will end with the unveiling and memorial/dedication of Micah’s headstone next Sunday afternoon. Perhaps my brain just thought this would be a good time to get me “in the mood” for the coming week’s event.
I have visited Micah’s grave only once since his funeral: last week after one of Micah’s friends let us know that his headstone had been installed. We needed to see it ourselves. I stood there, looking at his monument, silent but for the sound of my sobbing and trying to choke back more tears. To look at his headstone, his marker–the last monument to his way-too-short existence on this planet–and feel anything but loss?
February 7, 2000 to January 15, 2016 — not even enough time to allow him to learn how to drive. Not enough time to have a long-term relationship. Not enough time to finish high school. Not enough time to talk about life with his father. Not enough time.
This was just my introduction to the week to come.