This is a syndicated post from Good Shepherd Catholic Community. [Read the original article...]
Eli was a 15 year old student who attended Colleyville Heritage High School and was a member of Good Shepherd Catholic Church of Colleyville. Eli’s warmth was in his smile and his gift to was the light in his eyes and the beauty and grace in his laugh. During his brief but blessed life he loved puzzles, cards, books, games, trains and videos. His heart glowed while swimming and going for walks with his family while he pulled his wagon. He loved everyone he met and his love was contagious. Eli passed away on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. Please read how Eli impacted a very special student, Sarah, who wrote the following essay as a gift to Eli.
It’s extraordinarily easy to walk down my school’s hallways and not really see the kids I pass, not to see their struggles, their dreams and hopes for the future. It’s much easier to turn to the newspaper or Internet to find role models there. But they’re just ink on paper or pixels on a screen. No, it’s much harder to look around you and find real strength among your peer. Especially one in a helmet to keep him safe from violent seizures that claim his body.
Eli walked the halls after everyone had gone to class so he wouldn’t get hurt in the rush of bodies. He walked with a smile on his face and happy words pouring from his mouth. I watched students avoid him, be scared of his strange mannerisms and, and not understand that he was badly brain injured. He would sometimes yell out, and thrash from his aide’s guiding hands. I watched this boy struggle to control his body, and suddenly my problems weren’t so big.
I tried every time I saw him to smile, wave, or say hello. He usually stared vacantly at me, and occasionally waved back. His aide looked like she expected me to make jokes at his expense. I didn’t realize why until I watched a sixth grader point and laugh at him. I felt sick inside.
Eli was one of the most innocent people I’ve ever met. He was in a bad situation, one he couldn’t escape, and still he was positive. He seemed to laugh a lot more than he was unhappy. He didn’t acknowledge the cruelty of others, let alone allow it affect his sunny mood. Seeing him was the bright point of my day. He was a genuine as it is possible to be. I admired him for his courage and his determination to find joy in life.
If we all lived like Eli, we would be better off for it. He didn’t live with regrets. He lived in the moment and always was amazed when time turned, and a new moment came. He didn’t let the words of others bring him down: he was happy being himself, comfortable in his skin, and loved by the people who knew him. So maybe Eli was the perfect one, despite his physical disabilities. Does that make us the ones who are imperfect, flawed?
Maybe his handicap was what made him the way he was. It says a lot about our society that we can overlook the truly perfect souls to focus on our own selfish problems, our own flaws. Someday, if I’m lucky, I hope I can be half as good a person as Eli was.
When I heard that he’d died in his sleep, probably from a seizure, I had to excuse myself from the classroom to cry. The thought that he had passed away, unnoticed by most of my classmates, made my heart sink and my stomach churn.
We had managed to be in school with him for three years and most of the other kids never noticed him. Maybe they never saw him walking the halls, or maybe they looked through him, or maybe they just didn’t look. Maybe it was easier to pretend he wasn’t there. What does it say about us that we can make another human being invisible? But it makes that invisible kid even more of a hero to me.
To me, Eli represented so many things that were pure and good in the world. He was a pillar of perspective in a world full of people trying to tear him down. And yet he stood strong, he held fast to joy, perhaps without even knowing what he stood against. I refuse to let myself forget him, refuse to become just another student who has already dismissed his life.
I never even knew his last name.
I guess in a lot of ways I’m more like my classmates than I wish I was, than I hope to become. Eli, I hope you know how much you’ve changed my life for the better. Goodbye. May you rest in peace, may your legacy never be erased from my heart.
Incoming search terms:
- colleyville heritage
- Colleyville heritage high school
- Good Shepherd Catholic Church Colleyville
- good shepherd catholic church in colleyville
- good shepherd colleyville