Behind the scenes of mourning where little is pretty….
We find new friends in Cambodia…strangers who have true pity.
Closure has never really been known. Closure seemed impossible, always postponed.
But now our pain has a place to call its own. The memories of our lost ones have another home
Today is National Thank Your Mentor Day. Mentors share and provide experience. They inspire. I often joke around and say “I am the poster child for what happens when you don’t have a mentor.” But its hardly truth. I have had amazing mentors. Today I want to thank my new mentors in Cambodia.
Writing a Memoir and Discovering Mentoring
Before I started the Over My Shoulder mentoring mission I was struggling to complete a memoir. I had so many chapters written, but I had no ending. My wise mentor, writing coach Michael Steinberg, kept telling me, “The ending hasn’t arrived yet.” Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) fell into my lap when I was asked to find a subject matter that a young girl could authentically and appropriately sing…that adults would like also. I giggled at first because I’d been so deep into my sad memoir I felt I had nothing appropriate to say. Then the term “mentoring” appeared. I knew it could be a perfect theme.
One Less – My Healing Quest
Mentoring was a cure for hopelessness and might be able to heal all the things my “Stephen King” memoir was about. I wrote the lyrics to the Over My Shoulder Song in seconds flat. I could see that the Over My Shoulder message could be the remedy to the destructive and disconnected feelings that littered the pages of my memoir. I kept thinking…maybe having a mentor could have prevented the death of so many kids that were part of our close knit community. Maybe a mentor could have glued us survivors back together, many of us suffering from Post Traumatic Stress and just maybe mentoring could cure my exasperated feelings. Maybe mentoring could inspire one less suicide, one less addict, one less teen pregnancy, one less alcoholic, one less bully, one less gang banger, one less murder. One Less of everything that had tragically touched my life. One Less became my dream, my passion, my healing quest.
Traumas and Tributes
Exposure to trauma has shattering effects on social, spiritual and physical health. There are real, hard to cure, long term effects. Then there are the things we victims call “triggers.” Those things that drag you back to your suffocating loss that make it almost impossible to heal. Little things can dismember your calm in seconds flat. You can’t protect yourself from triggers because the violation was so upsetting and the years only seam to bloat the void.
In the back of my mind I knew my project would also somehow pay tribute to all my friends who had died and had influenced me, mentored me from beyond to try and stop a future tragedy. I didn’t know how and I never thought it might become the final chapters of my book. Then I got the e-mail about a school and students in Cambodia. This story started to heal the hurt.
Helping Those With Greater Needs Can Heal Us
Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School in Massachusetts (LS) is where the tragedy began. And Lincoln Sudbury Memorial High School in rural Cambodia is where a healing could begin. The amazing effort is the brainchild of a young student named Mira Vale who attended L.S. in 2007 had heard the stories of the loss our school had and then her class went through one of their own. Mira had figured that helping those who had greater needs could heal us.
Her vision created the Lincoln Sudbury Memorial School. Her vision wove two countries and two cultures together. At our school the hallways filled up with ghosts. The halls of the new school would overflow in hope. Because my memory was affected by post traumatic stress syndrome I could not accurately remember our dear friends. Plus the list was horribly long. Mira and a group of Alumni started to create this list. Nothing prepared me for the emotions the first time I read all the names.
An Amazing School in Cambodia
Thanks to this amazing project maybe now the nightmare can begin to fade. Maybe now I can find a way to finally become comfortable with the loss. Just maybe this story will have an ending that really heals and I will no longer find myself sifting through the ruins, desperately looking for answers. Maybe I can relax knowing that there is finally proof that all my wonderful friends really existed, that they all mattered and have been remembered. I can relax knowing that they are the reason Cambodia has a new school.
Thanks to my new Cambodian mentors in rural Battambang province, nearly 9000 miles away who I can’t wait to meet. Thanks to the vibrant Mira Vale who went to my High School in 2007 and started this amazing effort because the future looks brighter, the nightmare dims. Maybe now many of us who still live can finally say goodbye and let go to those we lost and loved so long ago. I am planning my trip to Cambodia to thank and give back and I will make it an Over My Shoulder Mission to bury the past and plant mentoring seeds for a bright future!