It’s hard to put into words my unexpected encounter yesterday. A few weeks ago I was asked, as the National Honor Society advisor, to host a speaker who was coming to my school to set up a scholarship for her daughter, an alum, who died in a skiing accident. I agreed and learned the details and set about planning the event. I anticipated that it would be a sad event: a mother speaking on behalf of her dead daughter, but I couldn’t possibly imagine the power of her story, or rather, the power of her daughter.

ImmortalitySometimes people come into our lives for unexpected reasons. Chance encounters on the street or on an airplane have introduced a handful of wonderful and meaningful people into my life. I walk out into the world with an open heart, well, most of the time, so it was a surprise to me to find a sense of a attachment to a person I have never even met.

Lori Goodwin’s daughter Kira was a lot like me in high school: energetic, athletic, popular, beloved. I am certain we would have been friends. But unlike me she lived her life to the absolute fullest, following her heart at every turn and “going big or going home” as her mom put it. As Lori told Kira’s story, I was beyond impressed. For her first marathon race, Kira flew to China to run it on the Great Wall. Yeah, people call me fearless, but Kira was clearly next level.

As I looked at photos of this stranger, this inspiration, this symbol, I reflected upon myself and my life in ways I never have before. I reflected on my mortality. While 30 is far too young to leave this world, it can happen. It does happen. And it is never expected.

I was fortunate enough to sit next to Lori during lunch after her talk and after we paid our respects to a plaque placed on campus to honor Kira’s memory. I told Lori how I’m training for my first marathon and that I’m terrified. She provided me with words of encouragement and comfort. She told me to keep her updated on my race.

She hugged me. Like, a really good, deep, mom hug. I felt protected. I felt like I could run a hundred marathons.

Later that day I received a note and a pink Nalgene water bottle with a sticker of a sea turtle on it, the symbol of Kira’s legacy. It moved me. This small token of a mother’s love for her daughter brought tears to my eyes as it made me think about how of all the pain and anger and hate in the world today is just senseless noise. It is meaningless. Our stress and anxiety about mundane problems and hypothetical situations are meaningless noise! Noise distracting us from all the powerful and unexpected and beautiful ways that love persists. endures. lives forever.

By Ashley Gramolini, CAC English Teacher & Coord of the NHS Program Oct 17 2018, Blog

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