February 19. Today seemed to have a bit of everything. A very close friend, whose family has already suffered terribly, said goodbye to his brother. My heart goes out to him and his mother. I cannot imagine what they are going through right now. Three blocks down from the service, at 301 Lyndhurst Street, was the house that my mother grew up in…where I got to know my grandparents. They passed a few years ago, but I went by the house just to show Serene, take a look, and because with their graves in South Carolina, it was a bit of a way to visit them. The house is in horrible shape. I couldn’t help thinking that my grandparents would never approve of its condition. The backyard, where my grandfather used to grow award-winning vegetables, was a mess, even under the cover of two feet of snow. One of the things that I remember hating about that house was that it overlooked a massive cemetery. As a child I feared catching even an unintentional glimpse of it. It was scary. But yesterday, for some reason…maybe it was the blue skies and bright sunshine…or maybe because it seemed to be aligned with the other events of the day…I was comforted by the sight of that cemetery. Or maybe it was because it was the one thing that seemed unchanged after 15 years.
I also had a chance to visit my alma mater, Gilman School. My parents’ choice to send me to Gilman for grades 7-12 is still one of the most influential things they ever did for me. As I signed in at the front desk, I asked whether or not Mr. Holley’s (pictured below) office was in the building. No. But after taking 3 steps into the Common Room, I glanced to my right to see him talking with some alums. Mr. Holley was my Af-Am Lit teacher and my baseball coach and a fantastic role model for ALL the boys in the Upper School. I also got a chance to say hello to Mr. Schmick, the new Headmaster, who seemed perplexed by the fact that I had actually grown, Mr. Foreman, my very first teacher at Gilman in 7th grade science class, and Donell Thompson, from the class of ’91, now a teacher in the middle school. Even teachers whose classes I had never taken stopped to greet me in the hallways. Gilman is a such special place because of teachers, coaches, and mentors like them, and it felt so much like being at home.