Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Dash

Yes, sadly I have neglected my blog once again. I have been busy enjoying the summer and at times I feel like we are busier than during the school year...but as I type that I'm thinking that maybe life is just busy year-round.

I know the following pictures are heart wrenching, but I feel it is important to share them.

My father-in-law, with the family's input, has placed the monument (I really dislike the other word for it now that I've been through this) at the cemetery. It was a long process because we all wanted it to be special, and so he went to great lengths to ensure that.
I am going to retell what Thomas did on Caroline's bathroom wall a week before the accident since it is so significant to the monument.
It was December 30th 2008, I believe, when I went to a "game night" at my good friend Laura's house. Thomas gave Caroline a bath that night before putting her to bed. When I went into her bathroom the next day, this is what I saw:
For those of you who have not had biology class in a few years (or never understood it the first time, like me) this is the Kreb cycle. Thomas was teaching our not quite 2 year old daughter the innerworkings of the cells in our bodies. (He was also practicing drawing if from memory to teach it to his AP Biology class.)
This drawing of the cycle shows how our cells use oxygen to give us LIFE. Thomas took his job teaching high school students very seriously, and he very well probably thought Caroline could handle this science since she is a very advanced little girl ;-)
So, of course, those of you who know me well, know that I do not scour the bathroom walls on a weekly (or monthly...) basis. Thank goodness. Less than a week later the accident occurred.
I was in such a daze for a while so I really don't know or remember how Thomas's family saw the bathroom wall, but they for sure knew the significance (they are all doctors.)
Thomas's older brother has since presented a couple of lectures to Thomas's former students at Har-ber High in their biology classes using Mr. Culp's drawing as the focal point of the lesson. It was a tribute lecture that involved life lessons as well as the importance of understanding biology and why Mr. Culp had a passion for education.
Thomas knew the importance of living life to the fullest. He knew also how life is fueled.
So this leads me to the pictures of the monument.
The front includes lots of words to describe Thomas: son, father, husband, biker, musician for example. It also includes the Spanish and Marshallese words for "friend" because he had such a passion for his ESL Biology class students.
(there isn't an image on the background, the picture turned out like that because of reflections):And the back includes the picture from our bathroom wall. I love that it is in his own handwriting. It also has his signature in the lower right hand corner:
I remember as a teenager hearing that poem about how our entire life is what happens in the little "dash" between the dates of your birth and death. It made an impact on me then. And I think about those dashes when I visit cemeteries. I would wonder how the person spent his or her dash and I would wonder if anyone was still alive that remembered or loved the person.
I think my father in law did an amazing job on the monument. I know anyone passing by it would be able to tell how some of Thomas's dash was spent and how much he is loved.
What's even better than that, though, is because of the kind of person he was, he made lasting impressions on everyone he met and the impact he had on his students and Caroline (and Baby T with my help) will affect the future forever.

From the "dash" poem:
"What matters is how we live and love And how we spend our dash."

I would like to add that it also matters how we are going to spend our time after the final date.

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.