Slice of Life Challenge day 2 #sol17

Slice of Life Challenge, day 2. “Remembering”

Title:  “Remembering”

The meeting ended.  Closing my computer, I said my good-byes to colleagues departing .  With the amazing precision that only teachers can demonstrate, everyone had heard the bell ring , gathered their papers, computers, writing implements, and student work and slipped out the door, all within the span of 32 seconds.  Almost everyone.  I lingered. And next to me sat my colleague, MP.

“It was twenty years ago today,” I mused, staring at her multitude of books on the south wall.

“Twenty years?” she asked.

“Yes, it’s been twenty years since my brother’s accident.”  In fact, today did mark twenty years to the day that I lost my brother to a fatal car accident.  And twenty years is a long time.  Well, it seems like it should feel like a long time.  Strangely, though, as I leaned on my elbows, hunched over the table in MP’s seventh grade language arts classroom, it suddenly didn’t feel like a long time.

“I’m so sorry,” MP offered.

I started to explain that, really, I was fine.  Forcing a smile to my face, I said, “Time helps.  It makes a big difference.  Makes it better, easier.”

But then I thought of my own girls at home, my two older ones.  And I began to explain that I often speak of my brother and tell them stories of times when he and I were their age (they are two years apart, just as my brother and I were).  For instance, there was a time when we put the soap bubbles on our faces to “make beards” and called our mom into the bathroom to “check out our beards!”  And there was the time when we played the drums together in my first grade classroom, attempting to cover the music of an obscure German pop group, “Kraftwerk.”  And then there was the time we caught my grandfather smoking cigarettes beside the house in California, even though his doctors had forbidden it.

And that’s when I realized I wasn’t feeling fine anymore.  I could feel the tears spring to my eyes unexpectedly, right there in this empty classroom.  Luckily I happened to be with someone who means a lot to me, someone who I knew would understand.  A trusted friend.

“I’ll be thinking of you today,” she said softly.

As I sit to write this small slice of life, I am reminded of the importance of two things: the first is the importance of having a relationship of trust with someone with whom you feel comfortable sharing the most difficult times; and secondly, I’m reminded of how important it is write about these times.  One of my great mentors once said, “Writers write to hang onto moments of trouble.”  I suppose this gives texture to our writing lives.  And I suppose that’s a good thing.

In memory of Sean Kelly Ball, 1970-1997



Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

21 thoughts on “Slice of Life Challenge day 2 #sol17”

  1. Oh, Lanny! I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your brother Sean. You know how they say “time heals all wounds?” Well, that’s crap. Time can make it easier, but when you lose someone special as special as Sean tragically, time softens the blow, but it doesn’t heal.

    Keep talking about Sean to those precious girls of yours. It is amazing how talking about those we’ve loved fiercelyband lost can keep them alive even when they are so far away.


  2. These words meant a lot to me. They helped me put a frame around an experience I had yesterday that caught me off guard, as I too found myself in a spot of remembering. Thank you for putting them down on paper.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lanny… your post went right to my heart. A sibling is such a treasured friend. They get you like no one else ever can. My kids are also two years apart and I can’t imagine one without the other. I’m glad you wrote about Sean and I’m glad you had a trusted colleague to be with you in that moment of remembrance.


  4. Those moments of emotions that sneak up on us can be startling but I often find are the most healing. I’m glad you had someone close to you in the moment. Take care. It can be a cleansing experience to write about the hard things.


  5. This is beautiful in an achy way Lanny. I am sorry your brother is gone but love that you remember him in your writing. Time softens some of the harder edges of the pain of loss, but I am not sure it ever goes away. Having people who understand and accept us, or just stand with us, when those waves of sadness roll over us, is such a gift. It’s so lovely that you share stories of your brother with your children. Thinking about you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow. You have learned two very important lessons. But you have also taught me (and all the other readers) one too: the lesson in the power of vulnerability. You have opened your heart to us all. Words heal. Stories heal. Writing heals.


  7. Your post is beautifully crafted, Lanny–the journey from the present into the past and back to the present is powerful. I’m so sorry about Sean. Time does NOT make it easier. Barbara Kingsolver wrote about grief better than anyone I’ve ever read in Animal Dreams where she talks about grief being like a canyon that gets deeper each year. There’s just more and more that we have in our lives that we wish we were sharing with that person. I’m not doing her writing justice. No other words. I’m glad you shared.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very touching, heartfelt, and sincere Lanny. I too have a younger brother and we’re also two years apart. I am so sorry for your loss as I can’t imagine going through what you and your family went through, especially suddenly and in the prime of Sean’s life. There are no words of comfort, but as you stated, “Time helps. It makes a big difference. Makes it better, easier.” The good news is that time, space, nor distance can never break the bonds of love; now that’s an amazing cliche if there ever was one. Keep living to make Sean proud!

    Liked by 1 person

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