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Piece #8 - Tragedy and 2009 [Part 2]

Other tragedies that I can remember vividly, were in 1986 I was in high school, I just happen to walk by our little student store and they had the radio on. I asked what's goin' on and they told me..."just listen." It was a news report that the space shuttle Challenger had just exploded and I remember the radio announcers stating that "there were no signs of Soviet missiles in the area. We don't see any missile trails." I thought that was rather odd, but true. It was a shaky time with us and the former Soviets of Russia. The other was 9-11. I was teaching and a fellow teacher called me over with my class, so we went into her room to find all the students sitting down, watching the TV as the planes crashed into the World Trade Center. I couldn't believe it. At the time of course, some of the students didn't understand the significance of the moment in history, but they do today!

This leads me up to 2009. I've been in the education business long enough to know when something is seriously up with a district. I had enjoyed four great years being at the school called Wendell Phillips. I knew that job cuts were coming, but since I had taught with the district for nine years at the time; I thought I had a really good shot at staying...I mean really, I was tenured for crying out loud! Little did I realize how squirrelly the Missouri law can be in education. I remember there being a lot of squabbling between the union and the district over the summer about teacher layoffs. On August 1st, (Yes, August 1st!!! About 3 weeks before school started!) I received a letter from our superintendent telling me that I was one of lucky ones to be cut (Laid off) from the district. So trying to find another teaching job at that point was almost impossible, since all I was certified at the time was Drama/Speech. However, the great irony in all of this was that...the layoff was a blessing, because something much worse was about to happen and I was needed at home for my family.

Because I was free to do whatever I wanted, I was able to be with my father and mother-in-law when Nancy (mother-in-law) was going to have a biopsy done with a growth on her liver. She hadn't been feeling very well and we all thought that maybe her problem was with her gall bladder. After the biopsy, it had taken quite a while for the results to come back...but, instead of delivering the information over the phone, they wanted her to come in to the office. (Never a good sign.) So on November 2nd, two days before Nancy was to turn 65 years, Nancy, Jerry, Emily and my wife got the results...Cancer; worst of all, pancreatic cancer. I'll never forget the day because Jaimee and her sister Emily had come home crying hysterically, in many ways, it down right terrified me seeing Jaimee cry like that. Having the Asperger's that I do, my brain was spinning through all kinds of thoughts and trying to grasp what can I do to help my family, but especially my grieving wife. The other thing that made this rough was that not only was Nancy's birthday on the 4th of November, but my birthday is on the 6th and on that year...I was turning the big 4 - 0. So over the course of a very grueling month of chemotherapy and other cancer prevention, none of them seemed to have any effect. On December 4th, about little after 3:00 in the morning, my mother-in-law went to be with the Lord. This was incredibly difficult on so many levels because through all the tragedy, I knew I had to somehow maintain some kind of order in the house. That proved to be very difficult. When we had her funeral, I wanted so much to cry for her, but yet I still couldn't do it; maybe it was because I knew deep down that I was going to see her again when I die. I will say though, it was good to see my twin daughters crying for her because I knew it would help them in the grieving process. (Remember, they have Asperger's as well.) Of course, you can image that Christmas was very hard on the family, but I knew I had to make it as normal as possible with the tree and gifts because Jaimee really wasn't feeling the spirit that year...which I completely understood.

Though it's been about a couple of years now since her death, it has still greatly affected several family members all around. Many of them are dealing with it in their own way, but I believe several of them need extra assistance. It really has rocked Jaimee's side of the family to its core.

The Song of Inspiration [Check it out on iTunes!]:

Song: “Praise You In This Storm”

Artist: Casting Crowns

Album: Lifesong

Here's a live performance of the selected song:

This is my mother-in-law, Nancy Jo Riggs. May the Lord Bless her always!

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