This is what I told my daughters new teacher in the Texas school.
I gave her that word as an offering. A warning. A gift.
She gave it back to me. She said; me too. I’m loud. That’s who I am. And that’s who your daughter IS.
The tears came straight out of me. No time for the lump in the throat. Because this woman, this teacher gave me what I always hoped people would give me but seldom did. She gave me Grace. Understanding. Acceptance. She said I accept you and your daughter AS YOU ARE and by the way, me too. I am. Loud. Me. Here I am.
Last week our family learned that my daughters science teacher from back in 5th grade at that same Texas school was murdered in his home. By a neighbour. Because his household was loud.
And our hearts. Could not understand. Could not process. Could not. This sweet man with the birthmark over his eye, this tender and kind and smart and honest and patient, and smiling smiling smiling and oh hey Paige, there you are, nice to see you, man.
He was a dad and a husband and a teacher and a human. He was and now he is no longer. He is not. And he will never be. And our hearts are broken and breaking still.
And I wonder, what if.
What if there are MORE of them out there. More people, right now, making lists of grievances. More people plotting to come knock on our door, without words. Without handshakes. Without casseroles. Without questions. Without patience. Without forgiveness. Without softness. Without grace and understanding and acceptance.
What if they are coming at us with anger and guns. To shoot. To kill. To finish us. Because we are too much. Too loud. Too messy. Too strange. Too different. Too anything.
I am a mama on my knees before God asking God please make us people who knock on doors because we want to be known and understood and we want to know and understand.
And dear neighbours, we are imperfect. We make mistakes. Sometimes we say the wrong words. We are late, we are selfish, we are forgetful and sinful and flawed and beautiful and human. We are asking for grace because we can’t live this life without being messy. We can’t. We are going to mess up in a month from now and in two minutes from now. And if we think that our neighbours are coming to slaughter us, to quiet us, to finish us for being WHO WE ARE. For being human. Then there are not enough tears on earth to express how devastating to humanity that is.
Mr. Ladner opened the door to his neighbour, because that’s who he was.
And my girl.
She is loud.
And she is forever and will be my beautiful free spirited child with the curly hair, running in the sand toward the water. Towards her life.
She is loud. That’s who she is.
For you, Mr. Ladner, with love forever.