A few days ago I received an email and here is part of what it said:
“Miss Moo, it’s going to be 6 months on Tuesday. 6 months without my best friend Martin. Why does it feel like it’s been forever? Is it bad that I can’t remember having him here? I want to. I want him to come back”
In the spirit of honesty, I initially didn’t know how to react, so I couldn’t write back straightaway. I shared this portion of the email with a friend and he told me, “That is sorrow.” As I mulled over both the email and my friend’s comment, I realized he was right. And I also realized that I felt ill-equipped to explain what sorrow means. It is different than being sad – sadness is more of a temporary feeling. You might feel sad when you don’t get Student Spotlight the week you think you should, or maybe you’re sad that it’s raining and your soccer game got canceled. But eventually, things get better and you forget the sad feelings. Sorrow is different- it’s like a sadness that stays with you longer – you might have moments when you feel better, but then other times you feel really sad all over again. The dictionary defines ‘sorrow’ as “deep distress or sadness- especially for the loss of someone loved.” As I was contemplating how to explain sorrow, I thought about the book we read together, Because of Winn-Dixie. I know it’s been a while, but I’m sure most of you remember the story. At one point, Opal is remembering her mother:
“Thinking about her was the same as the hole you keep on feeling with your tongue after you lose a tooth. Time after time, my mind kept going to that empty spot, the spot where I felt like she should be.”
I think Opal was experiencing sorrow when it came to recalling her mother. And I think similarly, all of us are experiencing sorrow when we remember Martin. Time after time we feel that empty space where we want him to still be. And while we have lots of great, happy memories of Martin, sometimes these same memories can cause us to feel deep sadness. In the last few weeks, I’ve found myself thinking about what Martin would say if he knew we were all experiencing sorrow from missing him. I think he would probably start off saying, “Guys, the Sox tied it up…you should be happy!” I think he would also say something like, “Don’t be sad because you miss me…instead, go and love people who need it.”
I’ve recently been finding myself wanting to hear from Martin…wishing he was with me and I could talk with him. The closest I could come to that was to read over some writing he did when he was in my class. I found the following piece he wrote about a dream he had for the world to help make it a better place. I wanted to share it with you, because I think it really speaks to what Martin would want us to do – to go out and bring peace to help make the world a happier place. In your moments of deep sadness, I hope his voice can help console you, and also inspire you to not stay in the sorrow, but instead be prompted to help fulfill his dream. I promise to do it and I hope you will too – we can do it together.