Today, Sandee Guse was buried. Yesterday was the wake. Difficult times for everyone who attended both the wake and the funeral. Many tears and many discussions of Sandee and how she positively impacted most who came into contact with her.
I know that her family is grieving and will miss her more than I could ever imagine or put into words. It is still a shock; the suddenness of her passing and the quickness of the burial. Having buried persons important to me I know the numbing and heart wrenching feelings of loss.
I must be clear; I had lost contact with Sandee; even if our friendship endured. I had let our friendship slide because I was too caught up in my retirement and putting distance between me and what I was before. I did not feel comfortable going back to Newport and believed that I should not go to give the new principals a chance to be the Newport Principal. Perhaps this is just me trying to let myself off the hook – those that truly know me know that I can beat myself up with the best of folks.
At the funeral today, the Priest read part of my original letter and I was surprised and honored. The principal that followed me read a passage. And the principal that followed him did the eulogy. What a real tribute to the qualities that were Sandee Guse – every principal of a school she worked at spoke of her and her positive impact on them. I was truly moved by this and know that Sandee’s impact on people was rich and true.
Every time I have an event in my life I analyze it to see what I can take from it and grow to be a better person; including death. I thirst to know every facet and every feeling that people have to help me understand. This has always been so for me and I will attempt to share what I have learned about myself and people close to Sandee.
What I learned and reaffirmed:
1. It goes without question that her family was strong and loved her as she loved them. It reaffirmed my belief that they are a strong and close knit family who supported and gave to each other. I was not proven wrong in seeing the true love in the Guse family and that is refreshing in the sense that love is actually real.
2. Funerals are a terrible way to reacquaint yourself with those you haven’t seen in years.
3. Donna Romaninski (Office Manager at Newport Elementary) Sandee and I were friends. We spent a number of years together and laughed, loved and had problems. Donna and Sandee were my true friends and I looked forward to each day at work to see them and relate to them. With Sandee’s death I know that I must reach out to Donna and rekindle the friendship that I had let slide. Donna may be having the most difficult time of anyone with Sandee’s passing. I vow to spend more time with her.
4. All the positive things I said about Sandee in the original “A Good Egg” are held beliefs of many, many people.
5. I am sometimes too quick to judgment and need to look beyond my own weaknesses and fears.
6. Most people react negatively to change unless it is a pay raise or the see a benefit for them. Death is the ultimate change and we as humans fight it. On a logical basis we know it will happen to each and every one of us – but we want to deny it because this change is great in its impact and scope. The thing we all need to take from death is that it is one of the few times in our lives that every one we know comes together to celebrate our life and truly realize the gifts that we gave them in life.
7. Admitting our mortality is hard but a necessary process to truly understanding our current life.
I take much from Sandee’s passing. I know that her family will be stronger and will grow together like they never imagined – they won’t put off saying “I love you” until tomorrow – they will say it today. They will put aside differences and petty disputes and begin to look at life in a whole different way and know that love is important and a necessary part of being human.
Once the shock and grieving have ebbed the Guse’s will begin to realize how much Sandee gave them. They will take this information and realization and apply it to their present and future lives and will come out of this stronger and with more meaning and zest for life. The mundane day-to-day struggles will be just that - mundane. They will build on what Sandee gave them and will see blue skies again.
This is what I saw in Sandee. This is what Sandee would want. These are the lessons we all should take on life. Sandee taught me well.