Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rachel's Challenge

At a PTA conference several years ago, I attended a very moving presentation.  I should have realized upon entering the conference room that it would be heart wrenching.  Greeters were standing to either side of the door handing out individual packets of Kleenex.  The next hour was unforgettable.

Let me first preface by stating I hate to cry in public.  There are personal occasions when something gets to me, but I go to great lengths to protect my street cred.  Titanic in the theaters... wouldn't give them the satisfaction.  Pulling my grandfather's life support... there would be time for tears later.  Kindergarten graduation... please!

The presentation was Rachel's Challenge, inspired in memory of the first student killed at Columbine High School in the 1999 rampage.  Her father and brother were speaking on her behalf that her death not be in vain.  She wrote her beliefs in diaries and a school paper on ethics prior to her death.  Rachel believed that we should put faith in others, stop judging people, show kindness and compassion, and remember to tell the people in your life how much they are treasured.

After the waterworks, and yes I sobbed, most of the audience filed this away as an unforgettable experience and presentation.  I took it further.  I accepted Rachel challenge, and have been working on it for over three years.

Friends frequently comment they don't know where I honestly stand on things.  I'm outgoing and friendly, but I don't let many people in.  I trust at an arms length.  While it is unlikely that this will change much, I could at least make an attempt to leave nothing unsaid with those I love.

So, I tried to give a little room on my vulnerability.

I started with the PTA girls I was bunking with in Seatac.  Over a drink at the rooftop hotel bar, yes I had to have a drink in me for this first attempt, I told them I loved them.  I came home and kissed my family and told them I loved them.  I started telling friends I love them, and what made me love them so.  I started telling all the kids that hang out at our house that I love them.  I called my parents.

I have been doing this so long, it's become who I am. I tell children, neighbors, friends and family I love them.   I try to tell them why I love them, and what makes them such an important contribution to the world.  To my life.
One of those PTA friends wrote of me in her blog that I was heartbreakingly tender. Thank you to Rachel and her family for bringing out my best and enriching my life.
I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same.

- Rachel Scott

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