I declare love today! I shout it from the rooftops, to wake those who are sleeping and shake those who are living life unaware. Why? In the last two weeks, I lost two students. One was one of my first students, a sophomore in 1992. One was one of my last students, a graduate from just a few months ago. Neither was old enough to die... whatever that means. But neither one left without being loved. So, in honor of Kim and Rhett, I declare love today, so I do not move through this day without acknowledging the love that fills my world.
* I love cool mornings that speak of fall when the season is still far away.
* I love the snort and stretch that Nacho gives me as his greeting after I say "good morning" to him.
* I love the sense of awe that comes over me when I step into auditoriums and realize that part of why hundreds of people are present is to hear the little words I have to share.
* I love the evening phone chats I have with my buddy in her late eighties who calls herself my "non-grandmotherly friend."
* I love the confidence my trainer at Guiding Eyes gave me daily, making me believe I could do anything.
* I love the book I am reading now that is so consuming, so beautiful that I am transported the minute I plunge into its depths.
* I love talking with my parents multiple times each day, treasuring the gift that they are here and they are mine.
* I love when people tell me how beautiful Nacho is, because it is gratifying to know his physical beauty is not even on my top five list of why I adore him.
* I love the knowledge that my job as a teacher gives me the privilege to be in the presence of potential day after day after day.
* I love the scent of a warm, deep perfume surrounding me as I prepare for yet another speaking engagement.
* I love when Nacho is unmoved by cheering, shouting, whistling crowds, then later the same day slips into puppy silliness when sensing a dog-lover in the shape of an English colleague who greets us in the middle of the hallway.
* I love color -- all of it -- even though I can see none of it: the swirls and curls of color are the firestorm behind my unquenched imagination.
* I love sports, upcoming birthday celebrations, violin music, and jewelry that sparkles with unique style.
* I love dark chocolate so dark that I almost choke on its bitterness.
* I love sitting still and breathing, just breathing.
* I love failing -- not when it is happening but when I learn from it and know I have learned from it -- because it tells me that the sunrise is just beyond that dark night.
* I love when my words in a speech bring laughter or tears or communion in the crowd, painting a sense that for one moment in time, we are not alone, not alone.
* I love when Nacho flops to his side, placing his head on my foot and sighing loudly, reminding me that I too am not alone, not alone.
* I love being a master of words, writing through tears as I finish this entry, "Because we loved you, Kim and Rhett, we are not alone, not alone," even if it feels oh so much as if we are right now.